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Lululemon, an $8 billion Canadian -American sportswear brand, has taken on this statistic as a challenge. As a brand synonymous with female athletes (68 percent of its market is female) it has announced it will be using its time and resources to double down on its commitment to the female journey with two new initiatives.
It has launched FURTHER, a new program to support and report scientific insights into female athletes. Partnering with the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific it has welcomed a group of female athletes ready to push themselves over the next nine months with the goal of a collective six-day ultrarunning experience in the spring of 2024, all supported by science and with a not-so-secret goal of breaking world records along the way.
Professional athlete, surgeon and Trail Runner columnist Stefanie Flippin says she has taken part in a RED-S study, as well as a novel fatigued durability test, and several VO2max tests with the Canadian Sport Institute and the University of British Columbia. She’ll be involved in the research, product testing, and training camps leading up to the event.
“The team is working to bring female-first research and data to the trail and ultrarunning world, and I’m excited to be a part of the leading edge of it all,” says Flippin. She says she’s been amazed by the level of feedback Lululemon solicits from athletes, and how readily they incorporate that feedback into product development. “It’s really cool to see a brand bring athletes in for this level of feedback and firsthand development in order to address the gaps that exist in products made specifically for female ultrarunners. As a physician myself, I know firsthand the paucity of women-specific research that exists. As a professional athlete, I’m excited to inch the needle forward for women in sport and close the gender equity gap. When we uplift women and demonstrate equity and inclusion, everyone benefits.”
Lululemon is also launching a bold donation challenge to support girls globally on their journey to becoming young women. WIth a global Strava Challenge, the outcome will benefit the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunties Alliance with $1 million dollars to aid the journey of more girls to empowered womanhood. provide a more structured path to womanhood.
FURTHER: 10 Athletes, 10 Goals, 6 Days
Under the banner of FURTHER, Lululemon has chosen to bring together a collective of diverse female athletes to investigate and celebrate human possibilities and product innovation in an ultra-distance setting.
For the next nine months, culminating on International Women’s Day 2024, these 10 athletes will work with Lulelmon and the Canadian Sport Institute to offer themselves up for scientific studies to understand their limitations, discover their athletic potential using science, and how they can push their own personal boundaries.
The group comprises a wide range of athletes in their performance, geography and age ranges. There are experienced American ultrarunners Devon Yanko, Leah Yingling and Stefanie Flippin, alongside Camille Herron, the 48-hour world record holder who is embracing peak performance in her forties, and stoked to be racing while entering perimenopause feeling ‘in charge of her journey as a female” in the sport.
Joining them are, Xiaomeng Jia, the first woman from China to be a Six-Star Finisher of the World Marathon Majors, and Yoon Young Kang, an ultrarunner from Korea who also happens to be a black belt in judo.
Kayla Jeter (U.S.) and Montana Farrah-Seaton (Australia) are new to the endurance world from their respective backgrounds in the explosive court sports of volleyball and basketball, as is Vriko Kwok, from Hong Kong, who describes herself as “the baby runner” of the collective.
Finally, Mirna Valerio, an American social media personality who has run 14 ultramarathons and has challenged the cultural norms of what it means to be a runner, says ‘“I’m ready to blow my own mind and smash perceived limitations I have drawn for myself and be a role model that can exceed our expectations.”
In a location yet to be determined, over the course of six days starting on International Women’s Day, each athlete will set out to achieve their own stretch goal to run the furthest distance in their careers. Herron, holder of the overall American record in 48 hour running, has a goal to “break a men’s world record, while having fun, eating tacos and experiencing it all with these women to prove that [women] are made for ultrarunning.”
Yingling, who was sixth at last year’s Western States 100, has been blown away by how much potential she has been leaving on the table as an athlete by not being supported by science. She is ready to dive in and learn all she can from being able to tap into the institute’s resources offered in mental performance, strength and nutrition.
“50k?, 100k?, 100 miles?” ”My goal is to stop saying never, and see where my limits exist.”
Meet The Ten Women of The FURTHER Project
- Camille Herron @runcamille, Ultrarunner, World Record Holder
- Montana Farrah-Seaton @montanafarrahseaton, Ultrarunner, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Model
- Stefanie Flippin @stefanieannflippin, Coach and Ultrarunner, BIPOC Advocate, Doctor
- Kayla Jeter @fitandfullbykayla, Strength & Wellness Coach, Mindfulness Strategist, Runner
- Xiaomeng Jia @nikkyjmm, Marathon Runner, World Traveler
- Vriko Kwok @vrikokwok, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Athlete, Entrepreneur, Friend
- Mirna Valerio @themirnavator, Ultrarunner, Author, Adventurer
- Devon Yanko @fastfoodie, Ultrarunner, Podcast Host, Animal Lover
- Leah Yingling @leah_yingling, Ultrarunner, Biomedical Engineer, Women’s Advocate
- Yoon Young Kang @smile.runner, Ultrarunner, Judo Black Belt, Joy Seeker
Scientific Inquiry into Female Endurance Athletes
The goal of FURTHER project is to highlight the need for scientific research by dedicating the resources to the research itself. Lululemon is partnering with the Canadian Institute Sport Pacific to push and study female physiology in endurance athletes.
According to Dr. Trent Stellingwerff, Director of Innovation and Research at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, females have 20 percent more slow-twitch fibers than their male counterparts and are 50 percent better at fat oxidation. Both of these data points are open to study to understand better fatigue resistance, and to explore the relative improved performance of female athletes over longer distances.
So far this has been evident in ultrarunning, where athletes like Heron, Courtney Dauwalter and Jasmin Paris have been outranking competitors of both genders. Ultra-distance swimming has seen the same trajectory, where women are leading the way, with athletes like Sarah Thomas smashing aquatic records of both genders, including consecutively crossing the English Channel four times.
Supporting the Female Journey At Every Age
In order to grow into a strong woman, you first have to navigate childhood as a girl. With that in mind, Lululemon is also committing to those potential future athletes with a commitment to a significant donation to the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunities Alliance, whose mission is to help girls reach their potential.
By tapping into its global community, Lululemon will motivate runners to play their part in logging a collective 1 million kilometers in its global Strava Challenge to unlock the brand’s $1 million dollar donation.