Scott Bauhs The Free Agent
Scott Bauhs: Running faster, more consistently is the easiest answer. Obviously I would have loved to do this. I also could have moved to the Marathon more quickly because simply breaking 28 minutes in the 10k doesn't do a whole lot any more, and American's have yet to really master the Marathon. I'm not taking the marathon lightly, but I do think had I run a roughly equivalent performance to my 10k/half marathon PR in the Marathon while I was with adidas then I would have gotten a lot of attention. If I had known that adidas wasn't going to resign me despite the fact that I made the World Championship team, maybe I would have rushed into a marathon but I'm glad I didn't. I have trained with Ryan, Meb, and Deena, and I know what it takes to run a rock solid marathon. I haven't quite had what it takes yet.
Off the track I could have done a lot to get my story out there. I could have done a lot on the social media side, creating a decent amount of quality content can go a long way to gaining visibility. That said, adidas, as far as I could tell, was pretty indifferent about whether I blogged or tweeted or whatever so I didn't worry about it. I think social media is the future of marketing and a professional runner can really influence the people in his social sphere, and it is a shame that social media isn't universally promoted within our sport.
KS: Obviously your shoe contract is your primary source of income. Is it hard to focus on training and racing when there are questions around where your future paychecks will come from?
SB: It hasn't been a huge issue. I certainly talk about it with my teammates and friends and family, but I don't seem to be running any slower because of it. I just lost the contract so I haven't really felt the sting of missed paychecks yet.
I don't need a whole lot of money to run and I get a lot of support from Mammoth Track Club. We get amazing contributions from New York Road Runners and the Town of Mammoth among other sponsors, and the club can help out with expenses if I really find myself in a bind. I'm not going to be able to put money into a retirement account or buy a house if I'm not able to get a contract. As long as nothing crazy happens, I shouldn't find myself in a dire financial situation.
KS: Explain the process of finding a shoe sponsor. How much is the responsibility of your agent? What is your involvement in the process? How does it work?
SB: I leave most of it up to my agent, Dan Lilot. I may run into some shoe company people at different races and try to pump myself up a little bit but for the most part, Dan does the dirty work.
He did a great job on my first contract as well as getting me into races and getting me a few appearance fees here and there. I have a lot of faith in his continued work. He is well worth the commission.
KS: It seems that losing a sponsor could be a depressing situation considering that your 2011 season concluded with the World Championships 10k. How do you keep your chin up considering that you are coming off of a good year?
SB: I knew that it was a possibility but I thought that I had done enough by making the World Championships team. At first when I found out I was upset about it, but probably not as upset as my agent, which is good because that is his job.
I am in this sport to try to run fast and enjoy the experience. I hope someone pays me to do it but if not, I'll keep trying anyway.
That said, I really think it is sad for the sport that a company like adidas can't find the money to sign someone who was on the most recent World Championship team for the USA. I see sponsoring athletes as a small but important part of a marketing strategy and it's not enough that to simply pay them some money and give them some clothes. They need to be used in advertising and promoting the products at events.
adidas makes fantastic products, but it doesn't matter if no one knows about them. As far as I can tell adidas is slowly and painfully giving up on marketing to running specialty stores in the US, and if they do that then they don't need professional athletes. They may make more money selling to Footlocker and Dick's, but once you lose the high-end image then it doesn't matter how good your shoes are because people think you are a discount shoe company. If they give up on running specialty then that's what they are to the running shoe world, and I think elite athletes are important to that high-end image.
KS: Gatorade and Red Bull are among the non-shoe/apparel companies sponsoring track and field athletes. Are you pursuing these types of sponsors? How available are these types of opportunities?
SB: These opportunities are very limited and typically don't seem to care a ton if athletes are sponsored by a shoe company. The athletes that have these deals are the best in the world and also have shoe contracts.
It might help the rules for logos would change but it might not make much of a difference. If a shoe company isn't going to pay me a reasonable amount, why would another company?