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Nike’s Project Dreamweaver Supports Women’s Marathon Dreams

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Forty years ago, Nike athlete Joan Benoit Samuelson made history by winning the first Women’s Olympic Marathon.

Since then, no moment unifies the women’s running community like the Olympic Trials, which gathers the best marathoners across the United States every four years.

nike-dreamweaver

At the front of the pack, elite athletes vie for coveted spots on Team USA. Deeper in the field, women from across the U.S. have trained and competed just for the opportunity to make the start line in the nation’s most competitive 26.2-mile race.

The dream: to honour their devotion to their sport and represent their communities on a national stage.

Some two years ahead of the 2024 Trials, the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier time (OTQ) was lowered by 8 minutes to an unprecedented 2:37.

For every day marathoners, this made getting to the Olympic Trials start line even harder, especially amidst full-time jobs and family demands.

At the heart of Nike is their commitment to serving athletes and partnering with them to push boundaries and turn their dreams into reality.

When the 2024 Women’s OTQ was announced, Nike listened as everyday marathoners across the U.S. questioned whether or not it could be done — and assembled the resources to help.

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For the last two years, Nike’s Project Dreamweaver supported a community of 120 women across the U.S. and their dreams of qualifying for the most competitive Marathon Trials ever assembled.

Similar to Nike’s unparalleled support of its elite athlete roster, Project Dreamweaver was created to offer program participants the holistic resources and help needed to chase the OTQ — from coaching and nutrition to sport psychology and physiology guidance and more.

This partnership supported the athletes on roads where they train and race and in the renowned Nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL), the epicentre of human-performance data and knowledge.

“Project Dreamweaver symbolizes the powerful collaboration between athletes and Nike, pushing boundaries to unlock their greatness,” says Kathy Gomez, VP, Nike Footwear Innovation.

“We leveraged the best of Nike’s expertise, products, resources and devotion to running to provide world-class athlete services.

In return, these women pushed us to be better and reminded us yet again of the power of chasing a dream.”

Project Dreamweaver partnered Nike’s world-class NSRL scientists with participants in a shared goal of chasing the OTQ dream.

They were also joined by women’s marathon legends and Olympians — including Joanie, Shalane Flanagan and Keira D’Amato — who offered advice, mentorship and companionship throughout their journey.

“We started as individuals with the goal of competing at the Olympic Trials,” says Gabi Rooker, a Project Dreamweaver athlete who went on to sign a professional contract with Nike and will be racing in her first Olympic Trials.

“We live in big cities and rural towns. We are mothers. We are spouses. We have full-time jobs. We have children to raise and teach.

We are completing degrees and getting PhDs. We have pets and multitudes of personal obligations.

We are out there for the love of our sport and because we have dreams to chase.

I won’t be running on my own at the Trials. I’ll be running with the entire Nike Dreamweaver Project beside me.”

Along the way, Nike worked side-by-side with the team of women to study their biomechanical, physiological, psychosocial, and perceptual needs throughout the entire 500,000-plus mile journey across 70,000 runs and two years in the program.

This invaluable information will inform Nike’s athlete-services model and future Nike Running footwear and apparel innovations that will benefit all runners for years to come.

Most notably, Project Dreamweaver athletes were among the largest-ever women’s research and development pool for a Nike racing shoe, testing the new Nike Alphafly 3 in training and on race days throughout the shoe’s development cycle.

With a goal of making the new Alphafly 3 a favourite race-day shoe for all female marathoners, insights and feedback from Project Dreamweaver participants ultimately helped improve the comfort of the shoe’s signature system of speed, from better arch support and toe protection to softer yarns in the upper for less rigidity and rubbing.

At the culmination of Project Dreamweaver, athletes showcased the power of chasing a dream.

In addition to more than half of the participants reaching new personal bests in the half-and full-marathon distances during the past two years, 15 of them achieved the OTQ and joined elite Nike athletes and more than 170 other women on the start line of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, February 3.

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