May 27, 2021, 4:55 p.m. EDT

Good Company: Tracksmith’s Fellowship Program Aims to Elevate Running’s Underrepresented Voices

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For a long time, competitive running, whether amateur or professional, was a highly exclusive sport. 

Those starting in middle or high school were likely able to do so as part of an upwardly mobile middle class where most runners looked the same and came from the same areas. Runners looking to continue in college had a better chance of doing so if they were part of that same socioeconomic class, and the enthusiast culture around the sport required that past life as a track athlete or club acceptance from someone who was already deep in the hobby. 

Even though running at its core is something everyone could do, most of those at the competitive and enthusiast levels were largely white, leaving little space for other voices and perspectives.  

Although the industry still has a long way to go to support and amplify a broader range of perspectives, initiatives like the Tracksmith Fellowship Program signal the beginning of a much-needed evolution.

  Lee Glandorf , 34, , the director of marketing and Communications for Tracksmith says the idea came up during a 2017 marketing meeting as a “dream concept” to elevate other aspects and voices of running. Using the brand’s idyllic style and growing following as a platform, the program could highlight the power of the sport by giving emerging creatives from all walks of life a chance to tell stories less heard about running.

“The sport is at its best when runners at all levels contribute their own stories,” she says. 

The fellowship program took three years to organize and was slated for launch in early 2020, but the pandemic moved its launch and request for submissions back a few months to May. The brand accepted applications until Sept. 1 and announced six winners (“Fellows”) in October.


Tracksmith sells a tightly curated range of running apparel for men and women. The brand’s style certainly skews classically East Coast, taking heavy influence from the Ivy League vibe of yesteryear. 


Jackets range from US$150-US$250, tops from US$55-US$160, and bottoms from US$80-US$200.


Tracksmith received more than 350 submissions for the program. The brand set aside US$50,000 to fund six projects and the idea of what a Fellow could pitch was broad as long as it told a story about the empowerment of running. 

The inaugural 2020 class includes Fellows working on a podcast series, urban design concept, photo essay, documentary film, hip-hop EP, and an experimental sculpture series around the Boston Marathon. Projects are taking shape from the American South to Erbil, Iraq. 

Glansdorf says that although the pandemic slowed the program’s launch, it also accelerated some of the Fellow’s work. 

Podcast Fellow Dinée Dorame launched her series in January and has produced 11 episodes since then. Filmmaker Adrijan Assoufi has plans to travel to Iraq in September to spend time with athletes training for October’s Erbil Marathon. Other projects are on the way and have adjusted scope due to pandemic-related restrictions and adaptations. 

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