The race is on in the suddenly hot running-magazine category, with Mark Sutcliffe’s just-launched iRun taking on the also recently-launched Canadian Running, which is published by Gripped Inc.
The bimonthly iRun took off this May with a print-run of 50,000 copies, most of which were distributed for free at running retailers (the magazine has a
an exclusive distribution agreement with the Running Room) and at races across the country. Publisher/editor Sutcliffe is hoping to build a list of paid- and request-subscribers, a list that has about 7,100 names going into the second issue.
(Canadian Running, which began the publishing marathon in February, went after paid circulation right from the starting line.)
The category boom was overdue, Sutcliffe says. “There’s a huge population of runners in Canada in a desirable demographic,” he says. “They spend money and lead an active lifestyle. I’m not surprised at all that people are attracted to this category.”
Full-page ads in iRun sell for $5,500. Companies hawking running gear are the primary base, Sutcliffe says, though non-vertical national advertising is also a possibility (Subaru has already bought in).
iRun takes a “fun look at the sport,” according to Sutcliffe. While training information, nutritional advice, profiles of Canadian runners and race reports are part of the editorial make-up, there’s also a heavy focus on lifestyle. The first issue includes pieces on yoga for runners, sports bras, Conservative MP Peter McKay (“Peter MacKay is regularly chosen Canada’s sexiest MP. Maybe that’s because he’s a runner”), and Jim Finlayson, a marathon runner who also holds the world record for the fastest “beer mile.”
Compared to Canadian Running, iRun is “is less geared toward the elite athlete and more geared toward the everyday runner,” Sutcliffe suggests. “We’re more likely to put an ordinary runner on the cover rather than a super lean, zero body fat marathon runner.”
(The editorial mandate printed on the Canadian Running website describes that magazine as being “dedicated to all levels of runners in Canada” and the current issue has stories on former Liberal MP John Manley, running as a spectator sport (“There’s only so much beer and chicken wings you can inhale in 45.67 seconds”) and commuting to work with fast feet. The cover subjects, though, are indeed of the super lean variety.)
Cohen says he first heard about iRun just before going to press with the Canadian Running premiere. With his magazine “exceeding all forecasts,” Cohen isn't planning any major changes to the business or editorial model in the face of competition.
“Of course he’s a competitor. We’re going after the same market," Cohen says. "Is the market big enough? The market is about a million people, so presumably it’s big enough. But I don’t know for sure. There’s never been a successful Canadian running magazine.”
- Gripped publisher set to launch new magazine for Canadian runners [MastheadOnline]