For UltrAspire CEO Bryce Thatcher it has always been about the athlete. In the early days many of the things he built were to improve his own athletic performance and since has met and helped many elite level athletes in the span of his career. Through watching him interact with these athletes, develop product, and refine it down to the smallest detail for production it is evident that Bryce is passionate about finding the best ways to help anyone passionate about endurance sports perform better. But where does it all start? “Innovation comes from need, and it comes from the need to perform better.” Bryce stated when asked about innovation. Today I want to look at the process Bryce goes through to help athletes prepare for their races and ultimately create new concepts that continue to drive the running industry forward.
U.S. Olympian & 33rd Marathon Des Sables Winner Magdalena Boulet:
UltrAspire ambassador Magdalena Boulet and Bryce have worked together throughout the years during the research and development process. In one particular session during preparation for a race, Bryce worked with Magda to build her a new pack based off of what worked for her at the Marathon Des Sables. I was able to sit in and listen to the type of questions being asked:
Bryce: So this is kind of my plan, you tell me but it’s going to be easiest if we start with your last pack and we modify it from there. I see that you’ve done some modifications to it already as some of the straps are shorter and some of the zipper pulls are cut off and little things.
Magda: So I was doing everything I could to be able to take even 100-200 extra calories with me. I wanted to keep it light but have all the things I needed and have them be accessible.
Bryce: Right and the pack came back looking really good. Do you think we should drop the capacity or are you okay with it?
Magda: So I did have extra room that was not filled. I don’t think for this I used the top compartment, everything was just in the main pack pocket. If I could make a change for this upcoming race, it would be something where once I put stuff in I can cinch it down more effectively so it stays down verses expanding to the volume of the pack.
Bryce: So for the top pocket we could just make that flat with no storage compartment and we can adjust your compression strap placement to secure the load better. I have an idea for that and I will play with it and get it right. A few more questions….
This exchange carried on for about 30 or so minutes and by the end Bryce had created a plan to give Magda exactly what she needed to be as effective as possible. For Magda, every bit of weight that can be cut to help with energy conservation is of upmost importance and for Bryce being able to deliver exactly what an athlete needs to perform at peak level is crucial.
The Winningest 100 mile runner on earth, Karl Meltzer:
Innovation takes place over time and happens with small details that are eventually fine tuned into a new or updated product. Karl Meltzer has worked with Bryce for many years building packs and more recently together have built the official Speedgoat pack. Everyone has preferences and an athlete of Karl’s caliber understands what works for him and what doesn’t. “He has always been a waist belt guy, even when they used to get a bad wrap.” Bryce said regarding Karl’s official Speedgoat pack. Over the years Bryce has worked to create the most stable waist belt in the industry. By figuring out a measurement ratio and weight distribution that creates a balanced load, UltrAspire waist packs have been rock solid for years making Karl “the speedgoat” Meltzer’s pack of choice, the Speedgoat 2.0 an obvious pick for trail runners.
Inspired by Athletes:
Bryce working with athletes to develop new product is not something new or recent. Before anything ever hits the market it has been ran through the mud, tested to the limits, and updated many times to make sure when it does hit the market it is athlete tested and proven. His idea process thrives off of suggestions made by those who use the product and are pondered over by his own personal use after a suggestion has been made.
Not only pushing forward on suggestions, but having the ability to identify the needs of people who are actively involved in human powered sports is important. For Bryce, the ability to spot trends and gaps in the market has led to many product inventions and innovations over the years and will continue on long into the future. He does not wish to be all things to all people, but to be for those who know when something feels right and good.
To view Bryce Thatcher’s short film on innovation and his introduction of the hydration industry: Click Here.