In a message posted on Instagram this morning, three-time Kona champ Jan Frodeno announced that he and long-time partner Asics are parting ways.
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Never say never! As much as I thought this partnership would stand the test of time, its time to say farewell to the Asics team & family. Thank you for supporting me to get to where I am today & standing by me when times were anything but rosy. All the best for your project Tokyo 2020 and what will be a home Olympics for the brand. I guess no one could anticipate that in 2020 I’d still be refusing to retire😂 #3more
Frodeno used a pair of Asics prototype carbon plate shoes in Kona last October, where he set a new course record, running the day’s fastest marathon (2:42:43) on his way to a new course record – 7:51:13. Having been partnered with Asics for pretty much his entire career, including for his Olympic gold-medal performance in 2008 where he outsprinted Canada’s Simon Whitfield, Frodeno announced this morning that “As much as I thought this partnership would stand the test of time, it’s time to say farewell to the Asics team & family.”
He closed his statement on Instagram with a hint that this change might have come down to contract issues – “I guess no one could anticipate that in 2020 I’d still be refusing to retire. #3more”
Certainly one has to imagine that Asics’ budgets will be stretched this year as the company does its best to have athletes wearing the brand appear on medal podiums at the Olympics in Tokyo. The Japanese company is a “gold” Olympic partner, along with huge corporations like Coca-Cola, Bridgestone, Dow, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter and Gamble, Samsung, Toyota, Visa and Atos.
One of the first comments on Frodeno’s post illustrates what is likely to be a frenzy of speculation around today’s announcement:
“Can’t wait to see you run in the “Jan%” in Kona,” Talbot Cox wrote, referring to Nike’s Vaporfly Next%.
As we reported last week, rumours abound that World Athletics is looking to ban, or at least put some limiters, on the Nike’s Vaporfly shoe technology. Since their release, half of the top 150 marathon times in history have been run in the shoes and both the men’s and women’s world records have been decimated by athletes wearing them. Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour barrier in an unofficial marathon event in Vienna last fall wearing the latest iteration of Nike’s speedy shoe – the Alphafly.
With a reported four percent (or more) improvement in running efficiency, the Vaporfly shoes have become a hot commodity for elite and age group triathletes – half of the top 15 men and women in Kona were wearing some version of the shoe. Nike’s market share in the category has risen dramatically since the release, too – while there was no official running shoe count done at last year’s Ironman World Championship, it’s felt that Nike shoes were likely at the top of the list.
We’ve reached out to Frodeno and his marketing team to find out if there’s an upcoming sponsor announcement in the works and will provide updates on this story as they become available.