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Running Brands Step Up To Provide Pandemic Relief

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While runners are banding together online to promote social distancing, virtual races and at-home workouts in compliance with government-issued guidelines, the coronavirus pandemic is a great example of the trail community pulling together in a time of crisis.

Many running brands are also stepping up in the effort to provide relief to medical professionals on the frontlines of the pandemic. Reports from the frontlines have been dire, as stories emerge on social media of a critical shortage of medical equipment like ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE). One doctor likened the hospital situation in his area to going to war without ammo. Some outdoor companies have turned over their factories to produce the much-needed medical equipment and personal protective gear.

According to Footwear News, New Balance, Nike and Superfeet are going into mask making. New Balance posted this on Instagram, “Made shoes yesterday. Making masks today.”  

The company posted on its website: “We are producing prototypes for face masks in our Lawrence [Massachusetts] manufacturing facility and hope to scale production using our other New England factories soon.” 

Nike, of Beaverton, Oregon, is collaborating with Oregon Health & Science University in “prototyping” protective face shields for nurses and doctors. Superfeet and Flowbuilt Manufacturing of Ferndale, Washington, have donated access to their 3D printers and production facilities for making medical supplies. 

The family-run Oberalp Group from South Tyrol, Italy, which is the parent company of Salewa and Dynafit, is now producing protective medical coats and face masks.

In its first week, Oberalp’s factory in Montebelluna produced 50,000 face masks and 800 water-repellent protective coats for medical professionals.

Oberalp worked with other companies based in the South Tryol to form a crisis response team to manufacture medical PPE. Instead of churning out Gore-Tex jackets, the factory began to make equipment for doctors and nurses on the front lines. In its first week, Oberalp’s factory in Montebelluna produced 50,000 face masks and 800 water-repellent protective coats for medical professionals. 

“There will be many tragedies, no question,” says Salewa and Dynafit owner, Heiner Oberrauch. “But since the Second World War we have only known economic growth. Now it is time to change. Values ​​have to shift. We will have to pay more attention to local economies. The wealth must be redistributed.”

Bobo’s is pledging 20,000 snack bars to healthcare workers on the front lines with their Healthcare Heroes Bobo’s bar initiative.  In addition, with every box of hero bars purchased, Bobo’s will directly contribute 20 Bobo’s Bites to hospitals that are being most heavily hit by the novel coronavirus.

Also stepping up is Chaco, a Rockford, Michigan, sport-sandal company. It has retrofitted both its factory and a mobile factory bus to produce face masks and, according to a statement, “is also exploring specs for the production of gowns and aprons.” 

Also stepping up is Chaco, a Rockford, Michigan, sport-sandal company. It has retrofitted both its factory and a mobile factory bus to produce face masks and, according to a statement, “is also exploring specs for the production of gowns and aprons.” 

The ReChaco factory contains industrial sewing machines and an “ample backstock of materials.”

Lisa Kondrat, director of operations for the ReChaco Factory, stated, “We at Chaco are doers. It’s not in our team’s DNA to stand by when we have the opportunity and resources to take action. We want our skills and machinery to be useful in this crisis.”

The company offers to share patterns and sourcing leads to any other companies or persons who would like to contribute. The ReChaco tour bus, in Portland, Oregon, will produce protective equipment for hospital systems in Hood River, Oregon, and communities in the Portland area.

Nearby in Seattle, according to SNEWs, Outdoor Research announced on March 30 that it will convert its factory to be able to manufacture both surgical masks and N95 masks for healthcare workers. Outdoor Research aims to produce an impressive 200,000 masks a day by June.

The Boston-based shoe company OOFOS is starting a program to help those on the frontlines. The company is donating more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to nurses and medical professionals all around the country. Their shoes have antimicrobial properties and can be washed between shifts.

Starting April 2, Brooks Running will be donating 10,000 pairs of shoes to healthcare workers around the country. Healthcare workers can sign up here to receive a pair of shoes.

Zoë Rom is Assistant Editor at Trail Runner, host of the DNF Podcast and Gear EditorAdditional reporting by Alison Osius.