Our favourite April Fools story of the year came from LetsRun.com. It ran with the headline: 'Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez To Ask That A Tax On Distance Running Be Added To Green New Deal'. The joke got at an inconvenient truth for long-distance runners. Running might have all kinds of health benefits, but travelling around the world to run marathons does not exactly contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.
We were interested to learn about the rise of Swedish sportswear company YMR Track Club. Founded in 2017 by Swedish Olympics long jumper Peter Häggström Lindecrantz, YMR Track Club has two purposes: to make running clothes that look good, and to make running clothes with the highest sustainability standard, which starts with making the polyester in their shorts and singlets from recycled PET bottles and spreads across every element of the business. YMR Track Club's clothes are, as it happens, brilliant to run in.
We interviewed Häggström about how he started the company, his philosophies on running and fashion and how running can be more sustainable.
Balls: Can you tell us about your love of running and your own background in athletics?
Peter: I am actually a former long jumper and sprinter with PBs of 8.07m/10.30. I competed in the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and have been Swedish Champion six times. Today I run longer distances and really love running. Running is a culture that unites people from all over the world. Almost everyone can run.
Obviously this changes from season to season, but in your mind, what's the ideal kind of clothing for long distance running?
Split shorts and singlet. The lighter the better is my opinion and it also looks great! If it´s cold outside, you can always add long socks and sleeves.
Can you describe the philosophy behind your company?
We create performance wear with a classic look that is knitted locally here in the textile district of Sweden. The idea is that YMR Track Club should look so great that you can wear the clothes for sweaty runs as well as to a fancy dinner.
Can you describe the materials you use for making your clothes and how materials compare with standard running gear from Under Armour, Nike etc?
We use similar fabrics as many of the other brands, but our local production of premium fabrics is unique in this industry. Being local minimises travelling and shipping and the fabrics are also ÖKO-Tex class 1 certified, the factory is GOTS-certified and all the prints have the highest eco-standard. We have very high sustainability standards. For example, all polyester in our running collections Norr Mälarstrand and Track Attack are from recycled PET-bottles.
Did you ever expect YMR to take off and be as successful as it has?
No, this started as a "fun project" as my former track club Ymer turned 100 years old in 2017. First I updated their old track suit and then made some more garments because it was so much fun. I gave the club a small part of the company as a "thank you" for everything they've done for me over the years. After a few months, Vogue in New York wrote an article on YMR Track Club. That led to orders at ymrtrackclub.com from all over the world. After that things has really kicked off.
With people travelling around the world to run marathons, can runners do more for a sustainable world?
I believe that everyone can do a lot more. One thing is that we wash our sportswear too much. Many times it's enough to ventilate the clothes after a running session. Another thing is of course to minimise travelling.
What's your favourite run in the world?
At my country house at the west coast in Sweden. To run along the sea on grass catching the sunset is amazing. I have made that run many times but it's still my favourite run.
Learn more about YMR Track Club here.