Exclusive Interview: CEOs Don Faul and Jason McCarthy Discuss CrossFit and GORUCK’s New Apparel and Footwear Partnership
Today, CrossFit announced that GORUCK, a company known for its tactical gear and rucking equipment, will be the “Official Apparel and Footwear Partner of CrossFit and the CrossFit Games” heading into the 2024 season. The partnership deal is initially set at three years.
- It’s important to note that CrossFit’s title sponsorship deal with shoe and apparel brand NOBULL concluded at the end of 2023.
In an exclusive interview with the Morning Chalk Up, GORUCK CEO and Founder Jason McCarthy said, “We’ve been enormous fans of and friends to the CrossFit community, and we [are] doubl[ing] down on focusing on community-building from the ground up, empowering people, all the values that we hold dear.”
- “[Those values] are so similar at a holistic level between CrossFit and GORUCK that it [makes this partnership] almost scary easy,” McCarthy continued.
The details: The official GORUCK partnership kicks off with the 2024 CrossFit for Health Summit in February and the CrossFit Open, and will continue through to the Games. GORUCK will also provide the official uniform for athletes who qualify and compete at the Games in Fort Worth, TX, and for the CrossFit Seminar staff.
- The partnership will see GORUCK launch a line of CrossFit-branded apparel. For trainers with a CF-L1 or higher, GORUCK will provide access to exclusive programs, discounts, and other benefits.
- GORUCK started in 2008: “We built everything from the ground up. Tested it for ourselves and the community in over 10,000 events and driveway workouts, and we’re really proud of where we are on that front,” said McCarthy.
- “We’ve been in the health and human performance space for a long time as well, and we’re super happy to show up where we add value,” he said, referring to sponsoring the CrossFit for Health Summit.
One big thing: Though it’s not being called “the title sponsor” as it might have been in years past, GORUCK will be the largest and most visible partner for the 2024 CrossFit Games season.
- GORUCK will be “our most important partner,” CrossFit CEO Don Faul said to the Morning Chalk Up.
While the language differs from years past, athletes and spectators can expect GORUCK to have a similar influence on the look and feel of the Games experience as earlier brands like Reebok and NOBULL.
Remind me: CrossFit HQ and GORUCK have been intertwined for many years, both at an affiliate level and at the Games, so the companies see this as a melding of the two communities and a moment to build them out.
- In 2019, athletes at the CrossFit Games took on Event 3: Ruck Run, which was a 6k ruck run with an increasing weight in a GORUCK pack. Lukas Hogberg and Emily Rolfe won the event, but fans will likely remember the event most for Mat Fraser losing a sandbag toward the end of the run and being assessed a 60-second penalty.
- The ruck run came up again during the 2021 Semifinals at the West Coast Classic in an event called “2019 Ruck Run 2.0,” which took the form of a four-lap 6k-total run in the Las Vegas heat.
- Most recently, athletes wore a ruck pack for 2023 Semifinals Test 2, an interval-style workout with gymnastics, single-leg squats, and max burpees over the box.
At boxes around the world, athletes participate in weekend rucks and GORUCK challenges.
What they’re saying: In both the press release made available today and in interviews with the Morning Chalk Up, Faul and McCarthy stressed the shared values that both brands and their followers hold.
- “I think CrossFit and GORUCK share a really similar ethos when you look at what we stand for, how we show up,” Faul said. “[GORUCK has] been a really strong present part of the CrossFit community since the very early days.”
- “At the principal level, I think there’s a shared belief in the value of doing hard things in adversity and getting after it with other people. So there’s a lot there that fits incredibly well,” he concluded.
- McCarthy had a similar sentiment: “The roots of CrossFit and the roots of GORUCK are very much community-driven. It’s from the bottom up,” he told the Morning Chalk Up.
- “We’ve been around the CrossFit space for a really long time. The first GORUCK challenge was in 2010 and we’ve put on 10,000 since, and the number-one community that showed up to kind of help build GORUCK were CrossFit boxes,” McCarthy said.
And what about how the Games will look and feel for spectators and athletes? Each sponsor has left its mark on the aesthetic of athlete check-in, the competition spaces, and the vendor village. McCarthy told the Morning Chalk Up:
- “We are a very gritty brand. It’s kind of like ‘back to the roots.’ There’s kind of a sheen that comes with ‘bigger [brands].’ We don’t have so much sheen — we have a bit more grit.”
The bottom line: Every deal is different and the partnership between CrossFit and GORUCK doesn’t look like CrossFit’s relationship with either NOBULL or Reebok before it. And although its name might not appear in the title of the Games season, GORUCK hopes to integrate into all aspects of CrossFit more than either of the previous major partner brands, from the Games season to CrossFit Health to the affiliate community.
When asked what success would look like in the partnership, the GORUCK CEO and founder said:
- “I want to see CrossFit grow; that would be fantastic. I want to see more people doing more hard stuff together. And I want this to feel good. That’s only going to work if we’re really supportive of the community of CrossFit because that’s the most important part of it.”