HOKA Creates NIL Platform For High School Trail Runners

HOKA Creates NIL Platform For High School Trail Runners

HOKA is creating a new NIL initiative centered around enhancing the trail running community through mentorship of young high school athletes.

Jun 5, 2024 by Cory Mull
HOKA Creates NIL Platform For High School Trail Runners

HOKA is expanding its Name, Image and Likeness lineup. 

On Wednesday, the performance footwear company and sports brand announced a new NIL platform centered around building and enhancing the trail running community through an initiative that will grow and nurture the next rising stars of the sport.

HOKA began by announcing three key signings in the U.S. high school market, including one of the nation's top young trail runners, Ella Hagen, a rising senior with Summit High School in Colorado. 

Two more athletes, Mountain Vista High School junior Benji Anderson and recent University of Oregon 2024 signee Anthony Fast Horse, are also part of the inaugural group. 

HOKA will begin by partnering these athletes with professional mentors and access to some of trail running's Super Bowl moments. 

One of HOKA's first plans will include Hagen crewing a legendary figure in trail and ultramarathon running, Heather Jackson, at the Western States 100, a renowned ultramarathon set in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. Jackson is a four-time top five finisher at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and is a recent winner of the 2023 Javelina 100-Mile race and the 2023 Canyons 50K.

From there, Jackson will mentor Hagen through her trail running exploits, including providing support for HOKA's UTMB Mont-Blanc YCC event, an international trail running race featuring two circuits over 15 kilometers in Courmayeur, Italy. 

Hagen, a two-time Colorado state champion across track and field and cross country, is an elite high school distance runner who finished top 10 at Nike Cross Nationals in 2023 and second at the Colorado Class 4A Cross Country Championships. She owns track PRs of 4:51.66 in the 1,600m and 10:06.19 in the 3,200m.

She plans to race the National Trail Running Championships, a high school championship event held at over 7,000 feet of elevation in Salida, Colorado, in July. 

Anderson is the reigning boys winner at the National High School Trail Running Championships and holds track personal records of 4:15.26 in the 1,600m, 8:52.12 for 3,200m and 14;48.90 for 5,000 meters. He finished second at the Colorado Class 5A Cross Country Championships and ninth at Foot Locker Nationals in 2023 and seventh at the U18 Mountain Running Cup in 2022.

Fast Horse is coming off a personal best of 4:06.18 in the mile at the HOKA Festival of Miles and holds PRs of 1:54.25 in the 800m, 8:45.39 for 3,200m and 14:32.50 for 5,000 meters. 

All three athletes will compete in July at the Trail Running National Championships in Salida.

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