Last weekend I flew out to San Francisco to run my first half marathon. Having no idea what to expect, I followed my running coaches’ advice and brought all my running fuel (Gu Energy Gel, Clif Shot Bloks and Jelly Belly Sport Beans, etc) with me and set out early to find Gatorade, bananas and a bagel. The rumor was that it would be impossible to find these things the night before the race. It seemed hard to believe but with 24,000 athletes registered to run the marathon the city was expecting a large influx of people, all looking for the same products.
Two days before the race in Andronico’s Market I wandered back and forth between the drink coolers and the shelf-stable beverages, searched the center store for peanut butter and energy bars and snaked back around to the front to find bananas and bread. I thought to myself as I was turning in circles, “With 24,000 endurance runners converging on the city tomorrow, grocers would really benefit from setting up a ‘runners’ corner’ display.”
It’s that season. Over the past couple of months cities all over the country have held, or are preparing for, a marathon, a triathlon or both. Every athlete you speak to has a horror story of losing or forgetting a necessary type of fuel. In New York City its impossible to find sport fuel packets anywhere but an athletic apparel store, requiring two stops every time I want to stock up on fuel and fruit or energy bars. What a pain! Grocers may not benefit from carrying these items year-round, but for the couple months they have visitors traipsing through their town in their running sneakers, it’s not a bad idea.
Finding everything I might need or want in one place would have made my shopping trip a lot easier and I’d have gone back to my hotel and recommended the store to any of the 2,000+ runner’s I passed on their way out to stock up. I’d have also bought more. As it is, running back and forth caused me to forget a few things and I had to go back to a different store to finish my shopping.
Retailers are pushing the ‘eat healthy’ trend left and right through produce displays. By expanding on that to focus on athlete-friendly foods, retailers can create a go-to destination for residents and guest athletes. With 24,000 people looking to carbo- and protein-load, there are a lot of sales to be made that no retailer wants to see run on by.