By Chris Lotsbom
(18-Jan) -- On Tuesday, Brooks Running Company announced the expansion of their commitment to athletics by creating an American-based middle-distance program in Seattle, Wash., while furthering their support of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Program. Their increased support comes as welcomed news because agents who have spoken to Race Results Weekly recently said that the present sponsorship environment is very difficult.
"Investing in running and supporting athletes is part of the DNA at Brooks," said Jesse Williams, Brooks's sports marketing manager, in a statement. "Our hope is to inspire people to run longer, faster, farther, and in order to do that we must help provide opportunities for athletes to practice and develop their talent."
The new team in Seattle will be modeled after the successful Hansons-Brooks ODP, though will specifically focus on middle distance athletes. Among the members to already join are 1500m specialist Katie Mackey, elite pacer Matt Scherer, Olympic Trials 800m finalist Mark Wieczorek, and Jessica Tebo, the former Jessica Pixler who ran 15:19.43 for 5000m last year.
"We hope that our professional athletes will help inspire other runners to set goals, push themselves and keep running," added Williams.
For the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Program, support will continue towards developing up-and-coming athletes in the long distance disciplines, especially the marathon. Recent members who have achieved success through the program are 2012 Olympic marathoner Desi Davila and USATF Club Cross Country Champion Jake Riley.
"Brooks's support is helping to usher in a new era for Hansons-Brooks," said Kevin Hanson, Hansons-Brooks's coach and co-founder. "When we started this program in 1999, we thought we had an idea of what success looked like. Each year we continue to stretch that goal further and further. We've had two Olympians on the past two marathon teams, but feel that is just the beginning."
In the past year, the Rochester Hills, Mich.-based Hansons-Brooks ODP has signed a number of talented athletes, including Neely Spence Gacey, Colby Lowe, and Bobby Curtis. Curtis, 28, is the seventh fastest American over 10,000m (27:24.67). His Reebok contract was not renewed upon expiration last month.
In support of the expansion, Brooks will relocate their headquarters from Bothell, Wash., to Seattle, some 20 kilometers southwest.