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Running wild

Relatable, relaxed and locally designed, Run Wild is an exciting new South African running apparel brand that was born right here on the North Coast.

Laid-back classic trucker caps, colourful vests, tees and comfy running socks – the Run Wild range is created by runners for runners. But it didn’t start out that way. In fact, it all started with a few bumper stickers to help raise funds for charity.

Now the brand has grown and evolved into a funky, successful and ‘quintessentially South African’ running fashion range for Umhlanga-based husband-and-wife team, Ryan and Sheralyn Elson.

Born and bred on the North Coast, Ryan and Sheralyn are both sporty and love trail running.
“We actually only started running a little later in life,” says Ryan. “We both enjoyed sport at school and remained active afterwards, playing club rugby (Sheralyn played touch rugby) while we were studying. That came to an end when our first son was born, though.”

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After completing a Bachelor of Science degree (with honours in microbiology), Ryan decided he didn’t want to be stuck in a laboratory all day and is a now a medical rep. Sheralyn is a qualified tax practitioner. The couple started running about 10 years ago, first joining the Regent Harriers running club and then the Riverside Trail Club in Durban North.”
Having participated in a number of local trail runs and staged trail races, Ryan and Sheralyn love running together – both in Umhlanga and at Holla Trails in Ballito.

“We are lucky enough to both have very supportive parents who help us out with the kids, and our boys have pretty much grown up in the Virginia bush,” laughs Ryan. They also train together at Adventure Obstacle Training (AOT).

It was just before the first lockdown, Ryan says, that Run Wild was created. “We hosted a fundraising run for the ‘I Care Charity’ with Riverside Trail Club and I had some bumper stickers made for that. They were a hit and I thought the design would look quite cool on a cap. I started playing around with designs and had two batches of caps printed, which sold quickly.”

When the first lockdown hit, like many people Ryan and Sheralyn had a bit of free time on their hands (in between those awful backyard runs), and they started playing around with ideas and designs for shirts.

“Once we put the word out, we literally sold out before we even had them made. We have had the most amazing support from our local running community,” says Ryan.

So, what is Run Wild apparel all about?
“Basically, we noticed a gap in the market in South Africa for affordable (but still good quality) locally-made running gear. We only make items that we enjoy running in.”
Keeping the cost-versus-quality balance in check is very important to Ryan, who is also passionate about supporting local. Everything is manufactured in KZN (except the socks, which are made in Pretoria). And everything has been ‘test-run’ by them before being added to the range.

“Having never been a particularly stylish or fashionable guy, this has really been a learning curve for me. I’ve been operating right outside of my comfort zone,” admits Ryan. “There has been a lot of trial-and-error and I’ve had to teach myself about social media and marketing, but basically I like running and having fun outdoors – and that’s what Run Wild is all about.

“We don’t do longer and multi-day trail runs, and we haven’t done any of the major trail races yet. We aren’t elite runners – just people who really enjoy time on the trails together and with our friends – and that’s the inspiration behind Run Wild. We want the everyday runner to relate to the brand.”

With new items being added to the range regularly (including shorts and possibly running tights in a few weeks’ time), Ryan says they are always looking for new ideas and designs. And doing lots of research.
“I ask a lot of questions and do a lot of Googling.”
Although the brand is rooted in trail running, none of the gear is exclusively for this use. Our items can be used for trail or road running – or pretty much anything fun and outdoors.”

With more and more people supporting local brands, Ryan says when they launched the brand he couldn’t wait to see someone who he didn’t know running in their kit. “Now I see our items all over the place and it’s just so awesome.”

Also passionate about conservation, Ryan says Run Wild is involved with sponsorships for various local fundraising initiatives (including sponsoring the upcoming inaugural Upper Highway Trail Marathon, which is raising funds for local conservancies).

Details: www.runwildza.co.za, [email protected], @runwildapparelza

Text: Leah Shone Photos: WES POOLE, GENTLE GIANT PRODUCTIONS

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