Salomon: The Switch
Best known for their trail running and mountain gear, Salomon are attempting to bring their style and know-how to the urban running scene with their latest set of events, The Switch. With a range that spans Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, trail running and hiking, Salomon have realised that one of the biggest and most popular markets was being overlooked – the casual, city runner who likes to mix it up. Gone are the days when running was purely to, from, or away from things, and now running around cities is a pleasantly popular pastime and wonderfully enjoyable way to stay fit and healthy. Even the majority of us here at Average Joes are runners these days. Salomon are, unsurprisingly, encouraging runners to unite and enjoy their cities, and do it a little differently with The Switch.
The Switch is a running event, more than just a little bit different to the 5ks or 10ks people typically get together to run. It is an event limited to 70 guests who are up to the challenge of running a reported 9km, but have the first and most significant hurdle of registering online, which we shall come to later. After registering, you are shared scant information, limited to the location, date, time and a told arrive in your running gear. Oh, and bring a pair of shoes you are comfortable with discarding. When we arrived we checked our gear in, slapped on a Salomon Switch snap band, and got ready for a run through London on a course that only our guides knew before hand.
The run itself turned out to be less eventful than one might have imagined the ultra-running technical chaps at Salomon would have come up with. Instead, it took a rather pedestrian pace around South London, meandering from Wandsworth Road Station up towards the Thames, then following this along the south side towards Putney Bridge, with a run through a darkened Wandsworth Park, before ending at the Profeet store near Parsons Green. We had expected a run through Battersea Park, with its amazing hidden gardens and wonderful flora & fauna, but perhaps that would have been too obvious? Although there were a few wrong turns and dead ends encountered, by far the most important part happened early after 2kms under the railway arches of Falcon Park: here the Switch occurred.
As the name would suggest, a switch took place, where we took off our running shoes and switched these for a brand spanking new pair of Salomon X-Screams (a review of these is imminent). Under the arches, we sat in Salomon deck chairs and watched as the Perspex cube of discarded shoes began to fill. Discarded, however, is not the right word. Donated would be a more accurate term. The Switch was run in partnership with the European Recycling Company, who took away our shoes to be either redistributed or torn about and reused in something else, all in the name of preserving natural resources and environmentalism. It was interesting to see so many people go from wearing their tattiest trainers to the bright luminescence of the X-Screams. Indeed, their vibrancy of their colours was particularly useful running through a dark Wandsworth Park, where they were, in fact, the only thing you could see.
The Switch was an event that was about sustainability, community and a shared passion for running, all things that Salomon represent. From the outset, a relaxing atmosphere created by the Salomon and Profeet team at the rendezvous point set the tone for the evening’s run. It was to be fun, no hell-to-leather session running, just a leisurely and enjoyable pace to allow us all to see the sights and get to know who we were running with. This atmosphere lasted past the run itself, with food and drink shared at the pub afterwards. So whilst the 8km around South London wasn’t a race, that doesn’t mean speed wasn’t a quintessential element of The Switch.
By far the greatest race of them all is being able to click through from The Switch landing page, fill out their info forms, receive a confirmation email and click the validation link. Sounds simple right? But with over 1000 people doing this all at the same time to try and squeeze into only a few spaces? Well, you can see that there may be a few disappointed folk out there. When we were at the event, we asked around, and most people were in and out of the whole process in an average of about 1 to 2 minutes. Interestingly, people had travelled from outside of London, such as the nearby Essex and as far away as Manchester to get involved in The Switch.
The Switch is a great way to get introduced to Salomon’s urban running range, as well as introduced to a local running community. Whilst the routes themselves might be questionably unexciting, getting the chance to do something more worthwhile than binning your trainers, getting to know the runners around you and the Salomon brand itself is certainly an excellent way of spending an evening. Although it kicked off in London in September, it will be coming to a city near you soon. Keep an eye out or an ear to the ground.