ASICS Acquires London’s Race Roster










ASICS Acquires Race Roster, Creates Win-Win
by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

In 2012, London-headquartered Race Roster, providing online solutions for runners and race organizers, operated within cozy confines above a downtown London pizza parlour.

On Oct. 31, that company – already a global leader in race registrations – took another giant leap forward when it was acquired by running industry giant ASICS Corporation.

Not bad for a tech startup founded by five friends who all attended John Paul II Secondary School in London. In less than eight years, Race Roster has expanded its workforce to 80 London employees, has helped millions of athletes discover and register for running and endurance events, and has provided global event organizers with tools for tracking participant data, marketing campaigns and event revenue.

And now, with ASICS forming a new Canadian subsidiary, Race Roster North America, the London-based company acquires an even larger global audience, according to Race Roster CEO Alex Vander Hoeven.

“We’ve been on a really steep growth trajectory since we started our business,” said Vander Hoeven, 37, who launched Race Roster with friends Brandon Laan, Chantelle Wilder, Chan Yin and Bob Pluss – all still heavily involved with the company.

“The idea of integrating an athletic brand with race registration solves many of the challenges faced by race directors,” he said. “We are excited that a brand so deeply ingrained in the running community shares our vision, and we look forward to introducing our expanded offering to the racing industry.”

Founded more than 60 years ago by Kihachiro Onitsuka, Japan-headquartered ASICS is a leading designer and manufacturer of performance athletic footwear, apparel and accessories. Its offerings also include the ASICS Digital portfolio, which includes mobile-fitness solutions and global e-commerce platforms.

For example, the 2017-released ASICS Studio mobile fitness audio app features trainer-led audio, curated playlists, and visual cues to help users keep their bodies moving and heads in the game – wherever and whenever they have time to work out.

ASICS’s acquisition of Race Roster, used predominantly in Canada, the U.S. and through recent expansion into Australia and the UK, creates an immediate win-win.

“As we take this step together, we are excited to not only expand our digital footprint, but also to create new and innovative ways to serve runners in the running community,” said ASICS Digital President Dan Smith.

What’s in it for ASICS? The acquisition helps the brand become the world’s top endurance platform and partner while accelerating growth and user benefits of its ASICS Digital offerings, while concurrently bring its brand and product to thousands of races and millions of runners.

And Race Roster sees an immediate investment for innovation, product enhancement and team expansion, and in the big picture assistance in the company’s goal of becoming the number one endurance registration platform in major global markets. According to Race Roster, the creation of Race Roster North America uniquely positions the company to efficiently solve sponsorship and marketing challenges faced by event directors.

Alex Vander Hoeven

“We first started working with ASICS through a commercial partnership almost two years ago … (and) when we talked about working together, there was a lot of excitement around what we could do with the different assets ASICS has at their disposal, and with the business platform (Race Roster) has built. So it took about two years to get across the finish line,” Vander Hoeven said.

With the acquisition, Race Roster now has a new 15,000-square-foot digs in the former Design House London building at 186 York Street across from London’s Via Rail station. It’s the fourth home for Race Roster, and a historic building once occupied by Gardner Galleries. Design House moves next door to 184 York Street.

Race Roster leaves its office at 103 King Street which was about half the size of its new location. In 2014, the company had left its office above the pizza joint for second-floor space at 740 Richmond Street which then afforded employees four times more space.

Now with ASICS as its global backer, Race Roster has the world in its hands. But according to Vander Hoeven, it’s business as usual – only with a bigger and brighter future.

“It’s still Race Roster. It’s the same logo, same brand. All of the employees on board will keep doing what they’re doing,” he said.

“We set out to accomplish something big, and this is a huge, huge move. It’s a big deal for our business, a big deal for London and a big deal for all of our employees. Everyone is very excited.

“We won’t change, but we’ll evolve and innovate,” Vander Hoeven explained. “The goal has always been to provide a really great experience for the organizers who are putting on running events, and for the runners themselves. With ASICS involved and with their resources and digital assets, we’re going to be able to create a nice offering to the runners and the race directors who like the combination of having the registration company involved with the brand.”

Race Roster operates primarily in the running event industry. Running events can range in size from 50 runners to over 50,000 runners, and in distance from 1K kids’ runs to 100+K ultramarathons. The largest population of runners registering for races on Race Roster participate in the 5K. Other endurance registration categories on Race Roster include cycling, duathlon, triathlon, ultra-running, walking and swimming.

When Vander Hoeven and his four friends founded Race Roster, they had set out to solve the technology challenges facing event organizers in the endurance community. After organizing their own 10K in 2010, they discovered that the running industry demanded better technology.

Since spring 2012, more than 5,000 event organizers have used Race Roster’s solutions to register millions of participants, and to provide the participants with tools to better understand, support and grow their events. And according to Vander Hoeven, that success starts with the 80 people working in downtown London, and now extends to ASICS.

“You need a team that’s well-rounded, and you need subject matter experts on each of the topics. We’re a running business, and we have some very talented runners throughout the departments in our operation,” he said.

“In ASICS, we have found a partner who is equally invested in solving customer problems.”

With the acquisition, runners are now able to discover, register, train, compete and celebrate within one digital ecosystem – in simple language, with an easily-accessed, easily-understood, complete digital platform. ASICS and Race Roster now have the joint ability to be present in each of the milestones that make up an athlete’s journey, from event discovery to race day.

Race Roster may have won the race with the acquisition, but Vander Hoeven said don’t limit the London company in its pursuit of perpetually pleasing the digital customer.

Said Vander Hoeven, “We definitely want to make a huge, positive impact on the industry.”


Award-winning journalist Jeffrey Reed has been writing about local, national and international sports since 1980. He is also editor of, the Voice of Golf in Southwestern Ontario. Reach him at

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and Sports journalist since 1980.

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