So I have been asked several times by many of my friends how I’ve become a sponsored athlete. Now before I delve into that subject, there are a couple things you need to know about the certain tiers of sponsorships that are available. After telling you about that, then I will tell you what I did and give you a list of my current sponsors/teams that I represent with what I receive in return.
Margaret Schlachter did a really great write up about this subject as well. You can check it out here: http://dirtinyourskirt.com/life/you-want-to-get-sponsored-myth-reality/
Anyways, the hierarchy of sponsorships are as follows (or at least how I view them). At the bottom level you have the “Gear Ambassador.” Now this type of athlete represents a brand/company and in return they get discounted and sometimes free products to try out and/or prototype products before they get released to the public. Who doesn’t love some savings?
Next in line is the “Sponsored Athlete.” Now these athletes get everything the “Gear Ambassador” does and more. These athletes will get more free products, a higher discount on gear and/or products, and the sponsor in question may actually pay for either their race registration fees and/or travel expenses to be out there representing the brand.
Finally you have the “Fully Sponsored Athlete.” These are the guys and gals everyone aspires to be. These are the people that have brands/companies chasing after them. These are the guys that train and workout for a living while the company supports them with everything the other tiers get as well. They basically get paid to do what they love while us other saps are out there working a 9-5 to pay to attend the events of our choice.
Now that you know the different tiers, I am at the bottom tier, the “Gear Ambassador.” I hope as you’re reading this that it doesn’t sound like I resent being in the bottom tier. I love my sponsors/teams that I represent and I’m overjoyed that they picked me out of all the other applicants that enrolled to represent their brands. But what does being a “Gear Ambassador” mean for me as an athlete?
That means I still have to have a day job to supplement my addiction. And by addiction I mean my events/adventures. It’s helped my funds tremendously that I get most my nutrition/gear discounted, but I still have to pay for race registrations and travel. As some of you may not know, I’m a civil engineer by day. So 8-5 everyday I’m sitting behind a computer designing and doing calculations just thinking about what my next event will be. And most of my friends and even family ask how I’m able to do all these events with my job. Well, one thing is I portion my money to supplement the cost of reggies and travel. I stopped drinking, so that’s I’m saving a lot of money there, and the biggest one, I’m single. So I have the time and money to go on all these adventures.
Pfft, and they say that running is cheaper than therapy.
Here’s a list of the brands/teams I represent and what I get from them for representing.
Honey Stinger: Now I don’t represent Honey Stinger anymore because of a conflict of interest with another one of my current sponsors, but I did enjoy it while I had the chance. I was ecstatic when a name like Honey Stinger picked me to be an ambassador. I still LOVE they’re Honey Stinger Waffles! While an ambassador I received discounted products from them.
Gu Energy: Now this is one of my biggest ones. I was extremely excited when they decided to take me on as an ambassador. You are probably familiar with the brand if you are a runner or an endurance athlete. Their gels and chomps are sure to give you the extra energy you need when you’re putting in that work either training or for an event. With Gu also comes their brand “Roctane” which are products geared more towards the endurance athlete/events. Without these guys I probably wouldn’t have done as well as I have in my endurance events. I receive discounted products from them.
Urawk Bars: Based out of Miami, FL these are some of the most extremely delicious energy bars I’ve ever had. They are an all raw, organic, vegan, paleo energy bar. Handmade daily without any preservatives. They are actually the first refrigerated energy bar to hit the market. Only the highest quality ingredients are used which are made available by nature. Not only do they help fuel athletes to perform better, they also take a portion of their earnings and donate to the ASPCA to help animals and do charity events to support local rescue groups. I actually took part in one of the events “WOD For Dogs” and had an amazing time. I’ve used them on all my ultras and as snacks before and after my Crossfit workouts/runs and they always give me the energy I need to perform and last. I receive discounted products from them.
Feel free to use my code “Haidar” to get a discount on your orders as well!!!
X-1 Audio: These guys were actually the first company to accept me as a gear ambassador. They are a headphone company that specializes in water resistant gear. So if you’re like me and you sweat a lot or you want to listen to some tunes while you’re swimming, these are the headphones for you. They also have cases to protect your MP3 player/phone. I received a 50-75 dollar gift card for gear and I also receive discounted products from them.
Hylete: Now I love these guys. They offer some of the most high quality gear for both crossfit and running as well, at least I use it for running. I have used their products in both realms and I am in love. They have everything from compression gear to shorts and shirts and pants and sweaters and everything is made with amazing quality. I receive discounted products from them.
Feel free to use my code “CPT8PXKWK” to get a discount on your orders as well!!!
Fusion Sports: These guys are a European brand trying to make their way into the U.S. They specialize in triathlete gear. I was able to get a free shirt and I get discounts on products as well. Some high quality stuff. The shirt I received breathes so well. I was able to run for two hours midday in Miami’s humid climate and didn’t feel like I was suffocating.
Ocr Gear: Still waiting on my care package. But they represent a ton of awesome OCR (Obstacle Course Race) athletes and I have heard they have great products as well. I receive discounted products as well.
Fitfluential- Now I put this category in for a reason. I represent the Fitfluential community, but while I don’t receive anything directly from them, I have one main source for a plethora of products. They’re a one stop shop which offers plenty of opportunities from companies and brands (both known and unknown) who are reaching out to people to try/test out their products and/or locations. You may sometimes receive compensation in the form of money, or you get to keep the product after you’re done. All you need to do is apply, and once accepted there are necessary guidelines you need to follow. For example, do a couple Instagram posts, or do a write up on your blog, etc.
SoleRunners: I love these guys. These are the guys that actually paved the way to my success in the running world. They’re the first running store I’ve ever gone to and never will I go to another. I feel like I’m treated like family there. More so because usually the runners they have are fast, you know, the podium finishers. While I’m no turtle, I’m still training to get better and I mostly do endurance/OCR events. They took me on to be part of their team because as they said “I show great heart and perseverance from the struggles I’ve overcome.” Means a lot and I’ll never forget that. And they have a great store in the Kendall area and will soon be opening one up in Brickell (if you live in Miami). They have all your running needs and I receive discounts on their products. And through them I was also able to try out and do write ups for the Nike Terra Kigers, Hoka One-One Mafate Speeds and Inov8 Race Ultra 290s, F-Lite 240s & Mudclaw 265s.
Mind And Body Wellness Center: Now this is kind of a branch sponsorship. Through SoleRunners, I am able to get chiropractic care as well. And through Dr. Brittany and Dr. Marcelos work I am getting much better. I first seeked out chiropractic care after my first 50 mile ultra. I severely strained my left hamstring and had no idea why. After some X-rays I found out my hips were misaligned and I was leaning more to the left. After three months of treatments, I feel my balance has significantly improved, I’ve become faster as a result (with training as well) & my injury is almost gone! I receive a couple free adjustments throughout the year.
Rhinoco Fitness(Imt Crossfit/CF Miami Lakes & Reebok CFMB): The reason it seems like there are a lot of names there are for a specific reason. I’ve been doing crossfit for over a year now and I feel like I’ve become much stronger and have much more endurance as an athlete than I did before I started. Rhinoco is the actual company and Imt crossfit (my box)/CFMiami Lakes & Reebok CFMB(sister boxes) are some of the locations they own (in Miami). Now I don’t receive anything at all from any of these guys, but I feel like whenever I go into any event or competition that I represent them because I follow their programs that they put out and these are the facilities I use to put in the work and training to get the results I am getting. I have made a bunch of great friends and feel that same family vibe that I do with SoleRunners.
More Heart Than Scars– Now these guys I absolutely adore. Headed by Zachary & Wendy Paban, they’re an amazing group of people. They do fundraisers and help athletes (who have some form of disability) get up and get out and complete different sorts of events. They’ve mainly been in the OCR scene and it truly is a thing of beauty when you see the smile splayed on these individuals faces when they cross that finish line. All due to the help of a few people who have the ability to perform and huge hearts helping out those in need. They are also a 501 (c)!I receive nothing from them as well, but I’m just glad they reached out to me and asked me to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Now while all that is well and good, I bet you’re thinking “Okay, so how does this help me? How do I get sponsored?”
I’ll tell you how!
Just go out and apply! That’s what I did. Make a list of all your favorite brands/gear and just shoot out a bunch of emails. You never know what or who they’re looking for and that just might be you!
I emailed so many people when I wanted to get sponsored. As you saw, I got through to some, others not so much. I think my favorite decline was Nike. When you check on their website about applying to get sponsored, and you click the link for an application, you get a pop up that ever so delicately states “Yeah, don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Nothing against Nike, I just thought it was hilarious.
NIKE SPONSORSHIP AND DONATION REQUESTS
Before you start sending out those emails though, you should write up a short little bio about yourself. Something about 500 words or so giving them a little background info about yourself. Name, age, where you currently reside, your job, what you like doing for events and any other interesting facts about yourself. Now I’m not saying to lie, but try to stand out as much as you possibly can. Why should they choose you over all the other athletes that are applying?
Also, some other documents you should get together is a list of events. Compile a list of all your previous events and if you have your completion time or if you’ve placed, be sure to mention that as well. And also compile a list of future events you’re going to take on. Either if you’ve registered or you plan on doing it, it will show that brand/company what they’re investing their stock into athlete wise.
A little side note, I read an article recently about sponsorships as well, forgot where, but it made a very good point. While yes, some brands that are just taking off will take almost anyone to spread the word, or the brands that have a name in the field that you’re trying to get sponsored for, they’re looking for more than just an exceptional athlete these days. While yes it helps if you’re a top athlete and podium every race, what does that mean to the brand if you’re not social or if you’re just a douche? Companies and brands are looking for people who not only compete, but are out there in the public eye (hopefully doing good things) while representing that brand. Community service, a huge social media outreach, blogging, etc. So yeah you can be a mediocre athlete who is known widely in the community and you may be getting a better deal than some of these top notch athletes.
I mean look at me. I’m slow as dirt, but I’ve made a bunch of friends in many communities because I love to go out there, have fun and meet new people every where I go. I mean, I’m 6’-2” hairy and run in a speedo. Unless it’s an ultra, because then I would chafe down to bone. But I’m constantly out there training, trying to be better, trying to be stronger, trying to be faster and just constantly networking. Because if I could make it to where I’m just running for a living I think I would be the happiest man on earth.
AND I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW SPONSORS/BRANDS TO REPRESENT IF ANY OF YOU ARE READING THIS!!!
And if there’s one piece of advice I can give you before you go out there chasing those sponsors, it’s this:
GET AFTER IT!!!
Take a chance. The answer will always be no if you never ask. You may just land that sponsorship with a company/brand you love. All you have to do is put yourself out there and ask!
Oh! And one thing I forgot to mention is that certain companies/brands are constantly looking for new ambassadors, but have a certain period of time during the year when you can apply. So while you’re looking, make sure you didn’t miss the deadline. And if you did, mark it in your calendar to apply for next year!