Hoka One One Northern Arizona Elite announced earlier this week that the shoe and apparel company has partnered with the nutritional snack maker Picky Bars.

Picky Bars, co-founded by former professional endurance athletes Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas, as well as current HOKA NAZ Elite star, Stephanie Bruce.

HOKA NAZ Elite, launched in 2014, has quickly become a successful, professional distance running teams in the United States and across the globe. The team’s athletes have produced eight top-ten finishes at World Marathon Majors, taken home five international medals, and won a grand total of 71 races including 12 national titles — including the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, which was won by Aliphine Tuliamuk.

Both Picky Bars and HOKA NAZ Elite have become known for much more than just great food and high-level performances, however. Fleshman, an outspoken critic in the running industry, comments often on equity and fairness. A tone that is not often heard in business.

Much of Hoka’s American-based marketing is through first-person social storytelling by is athletes. “Bruce, Kellyn Taylor, and Tuliamuk are all moms,” wrote Coach Ben Rosario in a release. “Fans can follow the team and its athletes via social media, on the team’s website (where all of their training is shared), in its weekly e-newsletter, and on its podcast—Midday Treat with NAZ Elite.”

HOKA NAZ Elite head coach Rosario, whose relationship with Picky Bars goes back a full decade, said the company was an obvious fit as a partner.

“My first experience with Picky Bars was as a run-specialty retailer in my hometown of Saint Louis where our store (Big River Running Company) was in the first wave of retailers to carry the product,” Rosario said. “What I loved about the company then was what I still love about it today; it has this super fun vibe and yet you can tell that they work incredibly hard and believe wholeheartedly in their mission.”

According to Thomas, both brands were started for and created by former athletes.

“A multi-year partnership shows how committed we are to distance running as a target market and how much we want to support distance runners with our marketing dollars,” Thomas said. “Two years gives us time to activate and develop the relationship, allowing it to be more authentic and do more stuff, go deeper, with the team.” 

As a way to kick off the new partnership, and in line with both company’s desire to provide quality content for their fans, Picky Bars will be hosting a screening of, a documentary film that follows the HOKA NAZ Elite team for the four months leading into last year’s Olympic Trials Marathon. The virtual screening will be available to fans across the globe starting Saturday, April 10, at 7:00 AM PST through Sunday, April 11, at 11:00 PM PST.

Tickets are now available to purchase at https://watch.showandtell.film/watch/pickyscreening.

https://athleticsillustrated.com/2nd-annual-global-virtual-one-hour-race-registration-is-open/

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