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The two months spent waiting to sign with a shoe sponsor had some bleak moments for Nell Rojas, 34. Even after a remarkable fall 2021 season where she won her first U.S. championship at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and finished as the first American female at the Boston Marathon, she had no exciting offers awaiting. According to Rojas, several brands cited her age as a reason for not signing her. All the while, she watched fellow runners older than her sign deals.
“They just didn’t think I fit their brands,” she said.
But on December 10, with the help of agent Ray Flynn, Rojas signed a contract with Adidas. “I’m really excited about Adidas,” Rojas told Women’s Running over the phone, adding that she feels confident in the company’s shoes.
Her confidence in the company grew stronger when she put in her first request: Replacing sports gear for a friend’s daughter who lost her home in the Marshall Fire that destroyed over 1,000 houses, hotels, and businesses outside of Boulder, Colorado, on December 30.
“It’s hard to ask for help sometimes, but this was a very special thing. And I think it was appropriate to ask for help so I just asked.”
The friend initially asked if Rojas could get a coupon code to help replace the workout clothing on a discount, but without hesitating, Adidas delivered nine boxes of apparel, gear, and shoes on behalf of Rojas.
“She has a long time for life to get back to normal, but I think the little things that show we care help,” Rojas wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
For Rojas, it also set a positive tone for her new partnership with the brand as she grows her career as a runner and a coach. “I think it’s exciting because I know that they’re open to other things, and that if I have ideas, I can broach them.”
Signing with the brand and launching her online coaching business (and therefore spending less time coaching in person) has allowed Rojas to work less in the new year and focus more on her own training. Sleeping in and not trying to squeeze in her workout before work, she said, has been “the most amazing thing ever.”
As exciting as fall 2021 was, she has plenty to look forward to in 2022 now as a sponsored athlete, starting with the Houston Half Marathon this Sunday. She will run Boston Marathon for the second time in April and compete at the Gate River Run 15K Championships in March. All with her new sponsorship in tow.