Gary Martin Signs NIL Deal With Brooks Running: How It Happened

By Gary Martin

April 25, 2024

Amid a breakout high school junior track season, I received a letter in the mail that would completely change what I knew a track meet could be.

The letter had big blue, gold, and purple letters and informed me that I was invited to be a part of the “fastest of the fastest” at the Brooks PR Invitational. After some talking to my coach, I decided that it was an opportunity that was impossible to pass up. Going into the weekend, I didn’t know what to expect or what putting the country’s top runners together for a meet would look like. But after arriving in Seattle, I quickly found out that Brooks PR was way more than just an opportunity to race.

It was an opportunity to meet and become friends with runners from all over the country, to learn about what went on behind the scenes of a running company, and to compete at the highest level. It combined the community aspect that I had always loved with my newfound desire to push myself to my limits on the track. After being lucky enough to go back my senior year as well, I feel confident in saying that there’s not an event like it in track and field.

A year later, I was about to enter my sophomore year of college. Track and field athletes were beginning to take advantage of the NCAA’s newly founded NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) rules and were entering partnerships with competitive running brands. As I saw more people start to ink deals, I decided I wanted to learn more about how the process worked and if it was something I could utilize too.

At first, I knew just as much about NIL as any other person, which is to say… not very much. I had no idea how to get a NIL deal, much less whether a brand would even want to sign me. How to navigate NIL was a mystery to me, and with it being so new, it seemed to be a mystery to the majority of the running community as well. After some research, I decided that the first step in the process was going to be finding a NIL agent. I signed with Flynn Sports and they explained that the next step would be to see if a shoe brand would be a good fit for an NIL deal.

From there, my agent reached out to companies and canvassed interest. While he did that, I played the waiting game. I knew that I would have to keep running well for offers to come. After a few good cross country races to start my season, Flynn Sports reached out to me and told me that Brooks was interested in setting up a meeting to get to know me a bit better.

Gary Martin has signed an NIL deal with Brooks.Gary Martin has signed an NIL deal with Brooks.

Johnny Pace/@pacephoto

There was excitement around talking to a brand that was interested in me, but I was especially thrilled it was Brooks. Brooks had redefined what competitive running meant to me. Now just two years later, I had the chance to be a part of their brand! After some emailing back and forth, Brooks’ Head of Sports Marketing Garrett Heath set up a Zoom with me and discussed what an NIL partnership would look like.

Their pitch was what I was looking for in a NIL deal. I would get to post on social media, wear Brooks gear, go to events, and represent the brand in the best way I can. But one aspect of the NIL deal went above what I was expecting. Garrett talked about the community aspect, and how being a part of Brooks would allow me to give back to the community that got me here. This stood out to me and was different from what I had expected from any NIL deal coming into the process. I had seen how important community involvement is to Brooks and this resonated deeply with me and my love for the running community. It excites me that I get to be a part of this as a Brooks NIL athlete.

After a few more conversations with the Brooks team, I knew that Brooks was the right fit. I couldn’t believe I was going to have the opportunity to represent a brand, much less the brand that was so important during my high school career. Three years after Brooks showed me that running could be way more than I thought it could be, they gave me another opportunity to use running to take me to new places. I’m thankful to be joining a brand that I believe in and that I know believes in me. I’m so happy to announce that I’m joining the Brooks team as an NIL athlete!

Gary Martin

University of Virginia distance runner. Archbishop Wood alum. High school sub-4 miler. Sixers superfan.