NEW YORK, December 10, 2013 — Move over Mickey and Minnie. The runDisney New Balance line of shoes just doubled in size. The companies yesterday announced the addition of a neutral shoe style that will pay homage to two of Disney’s most popular characters: Cinderella and Goofy.
Launched in January 2013, a partnership between New Balance and Disney’s running branch, which organizes races throughout Disney theme parks in Florida and California, birthed the advent of Disney-themed running shoes.
The original shoes in the series were the New Balance 860v3, a stability trainer that featured interpretations of Mickey Mouse’s black and red tuxedo look for men and Minnie Mouse’s classic red and white polka dot dress for women.
Cinderella and Goofy will be the stars of the 890v4, a lightweight, neutral style of running shoe.
“We worked very closely with the Disney team in order to select what characters would come to life in the 890v4 series,” said Josh Rowe, Senior Marketing Manager for New Balance performance sports. “Cinderella and Goofy resonate on such a high level with Disney fans that we wanted to make sure they were the inspiration for the 890v4 designs.”
The women’s shoes will feature Cinderella’s signature color, blue. The men’s shoes will be fashioned after Goofy with elements inspired by the lovable dog’s sporty escapades.
The original Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse shoe styles will also get a makeover for 2014, runDisney and New Balance announced at the 2013 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November.
Both the men’s and women’s shoes will be updated from the 860v3 to the 860v4 with new depictions of Mickey and Minnie. The 2014 men’s shoe is inspired by Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, made famous by the 1940 film, “Fantasia.” Minnie Mouse, in her pink and white polka dot dress, is the inspiration for the women’s shoe.
The first iteration of the runDisney New Balance shoes proved so popular that the initial order of 1,000 pairs sold-out in just 10 hours at Disney’s Health & Fitness Expo at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January 2013.
“We were just blown away by the response,” said New Balance senior product manager Bryan Gothie in a video about the shoes. “We had to make more shoes to meet up with the demand.”
New Balance produced several thousand more pairs, which sold steadily at runDisney’s other six race weekends at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. The shoes were last available at Disney’s Health & Fitness Expo at the 2013 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November.
This time, New Balance plans to launch the 2014 styles with enough shoes to go around.
“My goal is to not run out of them,” Rowe said with a laugh. He spoke about the shoes at a press event during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
To appeal to the most runners possible, Rowe said New Balance chose its popular 860 model for the original shoe—a mild stability trainer designed for runners looking for a mixture of support and lightweight cushioning.
“When we originally launched the New Balance runDisney 860 shoes in 2013, we chose one of our top performance stability styles in order to reach a wide variety of runners,” Rowe said. “We wanted to take the broadest shoe in our line so it can work for more people functionally.”
For the newest addition to the line, Rowe said New Balance wanted to include a shoe for another major demographic: runners looking for a neutral ride.
“Since the 860 is our go to stability series, we wanted to offer something to reach another large group in the running category: neutral runners,” Rowe said. “We wanted to expand our offering as well as answer demand from the neutral runner, and therefore immediately looked to the 890 series.”
The 890v4 is a lightweight neutral shoe that weighs just 8.5 oz. for men and 6.64 oz. for women. By comparison, the men’s 860v4 shoe weighs 10.9 oz. and the women’s shoe weighs 8.9 oz.
“It’s really for somebody who wants a faster experience in a shoe, in a neutral cushioning shoe,” Gothie said. “Not necessarily a fast runner, but somebody who is just looking for a lighter weight, premium cushioning experience.”
By providing Disney styles in both the 860v4 and 890v4, New Balance hopes to serve different groups of runners—those who want extra support and those that don’t.
“These styles represent the best in both stability and neutral cushioning at New Balance,” Rowe said.
Also new for 2014 are children’s versions of the shoes, along with inserts and lace charms themed to each race in the runDisney series of events. Additionally, the shoes will have specially designed New Balance-runDisney co-branded boxes, instead of the standard New Balance shoebox that housed the 2013 pairs.
The runDisney shoe line is just one part of a long-term, multi-year deal between New Balance and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. New Balance is now the official athletic shoe of the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, including amateur baseball events at the Sports Complex.
The Sports Complex track & field facility, which hosts the AAU Track and Field National Championship, has been rechristened with the New Balance name as part of the deal. New Balance and Disney also created trail maps for runners and walkers around Walt Disney World Resort hotels, and running maps that guests can pick up from the front desk of their Disney hotel.
All the 2014 New Balance runDisney shoe styles will be available for purchase exclusively at runDisney race expos starting with Disney’s Health & Fitness Expo at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend from January 8-11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.
After that the shoes will be available at other runDisney race weekends including the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend from January 16-18 at Disneyland in California, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend from February 20-22 at Walt Disney World in Florida, and the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend from August 29-30. All Disney race expos are free and open to the public.
“We have learned a lot this past year at the runDisney expos and we can say that there will be significantly more shoes than last year,” Rowe said. “Although, with the new designs and new characters being introduced, we recommend fans get to the expo early in order to make sure they can get their size.”
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. Her work has been seen in Newsweek, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, ABC-TV in New York and over two dozen other outlets. She has finished seven marathons and four triathlons. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com.
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