HOKA ONE ONE®, a division of Deckers Brands (NYSE: DECK) announces a new, multi-year, multi-million dollar agreement with the running team Northern Arizona (NAZ) Elite.
HOKA, whose mission is to empower athletes of all levels to feel like they can fly, first partnered with the Flagstaff-based group in 2015. Since then, under the leadership of head coach and club founder Ben Rosario, the Flagstaff-based HOKA NAZ Elite has risen to be one of the premier distance running collectives in the world, producing such results as Aliphine Tuliamuk’s winning the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials and Scott Fauble’s first American finish at the 2019 Boston Marathon.
The new four-year agreement will begin January 1, 2021, spans two Olympic cycles, and is intended to increase not only the personal level of support for each of the club’s individual athletes but the club’s overall infrastructure as well. The funding will provide for an increase in the size of the club, an increase in the coaching resources, and, crucially, will also enable the club to offer health insurance to each of its athletes – a rarity for distance running sponsorships.
“HOKA and NAZ Elite took a chance on each other in 2015, when we were both smaller and looking to make our marks on the world of competitive distance running,” said Mike McManus, Director of Global Sports Marketing at HOKA ONE ONE. “With a string of impressive results, culminating in Aliphine Tuliamuk’s Trials win in February, it’s safe to say this has been a mutually-beneficial partnership. We are thrilled to extend our sponsorship of NAZ Elite and to build a more robust network of support for one of the best and most engaging distance squads in the world.”
“We also support athletes who start families while they’re under contract by not imposing performance reduction penalties,” McManus said.
“All of us at NAZ Elite are thrilled to continue working with HOKA; a brand whose aggressive, innovative, and inclusive nature very much mirrors our own,” Rosario said. “This new deal, and the amenities it will provide for our athletes, will allow us to compete with any team in the world for the top stars coming out of the NCAA and provide those athletes with an environment in which to reach the sport’s highest levels.”
In addition to Fauble and Tuliamuk, the HOKA NAZ Elite roster also includes American track and road stars Stephanie Bruce, Kellyn Taylor and Lauren Paquette as well as rising international stars such as New Zealand’s Matt Baxter, Canadian Rory Linkletter, and Alice Wright of Great Britain.
The team stands out in professional distance running in their strategy not only to build a base of outstanding performances as professional athletes, but their requirement that each athlete build their own individual brand and contribute to an overall culture at HOKA NAZ that is transparent, charismatic, and which engages well with fans of the sport. “That does make it a bit harder to recruit for the right fit, but it absolutely benefits the long-term success and happiness of the