Whether you are looking for a last-minute Christmas gift or getting ready for the New Year, you can keep it Made in America.
Many folks at this particular time of year take stock of the hits and misses of the past 12 months and look ahead to the new year, full of resolutions and aspirations. I’m no exception. If you asked my family and team if I’m no longer euphemistically “adding too much value,” as I resolved to do, they’d probably just groan and tell me to try a lot harder next year. And they’d be absolutely correct.
But there is one long-term resolution that I kept: running my first (and then second) marathon. This resolution started as a challenge from the closest friend from my youth and then took on a life of its own. Houston and the Marine Corps (in Washington, D.C.) are successfully in the books, with Boston and Chicago planned for next year.
Why am I telling you this? A wise sage once remarked that no one would run a marathon if they couldn’t talk about it, and that is entirely spot on. But there’s another motivation here as well: It’s to drop a little Made in America marathoning knowledge in the event you or someone you know is looking to hit the pavement, whether it be for a 5K and up or just to get fit.
Let’s start with the attire. While you will see plenty of widely-recognized brand names out on the streets and trails, almost all of that apparel is imported. The good news is that there are also a number of locally produced running garments that will help you reflect your values (sustainability, workers, patriotism, etc.) as you put in the miles. I can recommend several brands that have endured the 1400+ miles I’ve put in this year.
First, socks. I absolutely love Mud Gear. Primarily geared towards trail, obstacle course, and mud runs, I’ve found they work perfectly for my needs. The socks are comfortable, wicking, and durable, and are also proudly made in the USA.
BOA is fun (just check out the chilli pepper shorts for a start!) and can work for casual or competitive runners. From state flag designs to denim-looking running shorts, BOA rocks it. Leorêver has thoughtful, elegant design and is a bit more upscale. The leggings have kept me warm and the warm up jackets are truly stunning. Designer Jonathan Oe crafts his apparel in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Runyon offers a wide variety of shirts and tops and also adds free of charge colorful bandanas and beanies to certain orders. Runyon products are inspired by the urban wilderness of Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles. Their shorts and tops got me to the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon.
O.K., one more Made in America essential for distance runners: Body Glide. If you are fortunate, like I was, someone will tell you about chafing and how to prevent it. And believe me, you’ll be thankful for that advice. Apply liberally. Body Glide is Made in America and is truly indispensable.
Now, let’s talk about shoes. I’m a New Balance aficionado because the company produces more athletic footwear in America than any other brand. I have at least a dozen pair of New Balance shoes produced in America. But I run in New Balance imports because the company’s elite long distance running shoe lines are not produced here. (Somehow my AAM colleague Matt McMullan ran a marathon in those heavier Made in USA New Balance shoes. But, I would not recommend it.)
There are some smaller shops that make running shoes. My colleague Jeff Bonior profiled SOM Footwear back in 2021; the Colorado company makes minimalist shoes designed to mimic the feel of barefoot running while also providing some protection for your feet. Massachusetts-based Victory Sportswear makes stylish shoes that many runners swear by, and the brand has developed a bit of a cult following.
But sadly, none of the big brands make traditional long distance running shoes in the United States. That should change. (Hint, hint, New Balance!).
So, what did I miss? What are some of your favorite American-made running brands? What Made in USA running products would you most like to see? Let me know on Twitter: @ScottPaulAAM.
Finally, a tip of the hat to the other marathoners past and present on our team, including Mark, Cat, and Matt, and perhaps more to come. Happy Made in America trails, everyone!