Red Means Go: Tart Cherry Industry Launches Campaign Encouraging Endurance Athletes To Fuel Recovery With Tart Cherries

February 18th, 2015

Red Means Go: Tart Cherry Industry Launches Campaign Encouraging Endurance Athletes To Fuel Recovery With Tart Cherries

Advertising Leverages Science Supporting the Recovery Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice

LANSING, Mich. February 18, 2015 – The tart cherry industry has kicked off a marketing campaign with Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI), to motivate endurance athletes that are increasingly looking for natural ways to aid exercise recovery.  A growing body of evidence suggests that tart cherry juice may be an effective recovery aid when consumed in the days before and after intensive exercise. The campaign will launch in February 2015 with advertising and editorial content appearing in print, digital and social media channels. Matt Fitzgerald, a world class endurance athlete, will play a major role in influencing runners, cyclists and triathletes to make tart cherries a part of their training routine.

The Science Behind Running On Red

One of the recent studies1 found that Montmorency tart cherry juice helped accelerate recovery, maintain muscle function and reduce certain markers of exercise-induced inflammation among a group of cyclists participating in a simulated road race. Each tart cherry juice serving contained the equivalent of 90-110 Montmorency tart cherries, which are the most common varietal of tart cherries grown in the U.S. These ruby red cherries have been frequently studied for their potential role in exercise recovery, including a similar study with cyclists previously conducted by the same group of U.K. researchers that examined the positive impact of Montmorency tart cherry juice after a three-day simulated road race.2

“Soreness after a workout is caused by a combination of inflammation, muscle damage and oxidative stress,” explains Malachy P. McHugh, Ph.D., Director of Research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT) and New York Rangers Hockey Team consultant. “Research suggests that tart cherry juice may play a valuable role in aiding exercise recovery when consumed in the days prior to working out, as well as after.  It’s a natural recovery aid backed by science that I feel confident recommending to the endurance athletes I work with.”

Two additional studies found that marathon runners who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice before and after a long-distance race experienced a faster recovery of muscle strength and less muscle pain compared to those who drank a different beverage.3,4  The randomized trials had runners drink either the tart cherry juice or a placebo twice a day for 5-7 days before the Marathon, on race day and for up to 48 hours following the race.

CGI Partnership

The media campaign will reach endurance athletes nationwide as they gear up for racing season and look for new ways to ramp up their training routine. New print and digital advertising will begin to appear in four key publications including Competitor, TriathleteWomen’s Running and Velo starting this February and run throughout the year. Featuring fresh, new artwork and copy, the ads are centered around the headlines “Red Means Go” and “Run on Red” to highlight tart cherries’ unique package of phytonutrients, specifically anthocyanins — the pigments that give tart cherries their bright red color and distinctive taste.

The ad copy states: “Fuel your muscle recovery with the power of tart cherries. Studies have shown that Montmorency tart cherry juice may help reduce strength loss and aid recovery after extensive exercise. So make tart cherries a part of your training regimen so you can get out there and get after it.”

Additional partnership components include athlete behavior research, recipe booklets inserted in the magazines with tart cherry recipes and tips from Matt Fitzgerald and other experts, and a tart cherry photo contest on CGI’s social media channels which will run for four weeks, starting in April, and encourage fans to share how they #RecoverWithRed for a chance to win a tart cherry prize pack.

Adding Tart to Training Routines

It’s easy – and enjoyable – to add tart cherries to your exercise routine, with a few tips from certified sports nutritionist, endurance coach and author, Matt Fitzgerald. “A growing number of endurance athletes, like myself, are looking for more natural food sources to aid recovery. Incorporating tart cherries and tart cherry juice into your daily meal plan is a delicious, versatile way of powering up your training routine throughout the day.”

  •          Pre-workout – Try taking a “shot” of tart cherry juice concentrate (about 2 tablespoons) before your workout – it’s packed with about 100 Montmorency tart cherries.
  •          Post-workout – Mix tart cherry juice concentrate with water or blend with frozen tart cherries, Greek yogurt and a few other favorite ingredients for a delicious post-workout smoothie.
  •          During a workout – I love snacks that are easy to pop mid-workout, so I keep a half dozen individually-wrapped homemade tart cherry gummies with me on long runs and rides for an extra boost out on the road.
  •          With me anytime – When I’m on the go, I like to carry small portions of trail mix made with dried tart cherries and nuts. It’s a satisfying and nutritious snack that keeps me energized throughout the day.

Montmorency tart cherries are available year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms – including juice concentrate, which is the form frequently used in the exercise recovery studies.  For more information on the growing body of research on Montmorency tart cherries, visit

About Competitor Group

Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Competitor Group, Inc. (CGI) is the active lifestyle industry’s leading media and event entertainment company. CGI’s portfolio of media brands span the full range of the endurance industry including Velo, Triathlete, Women’s Running and Competitor with a combined monthly circulation of over 700,000.  CGI owns and operates 36 events around the world, including the flagship Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, the TriRock Triathlon Series and Events DC Nation’s Triathlon, collectively delivering more than 600,000 professional and amateur participants in 2015. The race services division of CGI, Race IT is the second largest provider of online registration solutions to endurance event organizers around the world. Further information about CGI and its digital, publishing and event entertainment properties can be found at 

About Malachy P. McHugh, Ph.D.

Since 1999, Dr. McHugh has been the Director of Research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT) at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He leads a multidisciplinary research team including orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, biomechanists, biomedical engineers, and athletic trainers. He has been a consultant with the New York Rangers Hockey Team since 2000. Malachy McHugh received his PhD in Exercise Physiology in 1999 from the University of Wales, Bangor.

About Matt Fitzgerald

Matt Fitzgerald is a certified sports nutritionist, endurance coach and author. His many books include Racing Weight and The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition. He has served as a consultant to several sports nutrition companies, as a peer reviewer for scientific journals, and as a nutrition advisor to professional runners and triathletes. Matt also provides nutrition counseling services to athletes of all experience and ability levels through Learn more at 



1 Bell PG, Walshe IH, Davison GW, Stevenson EJ, Howatson G. Recovery facilitation with Montmorency cherries following high-intensity, metabolically challenging exercise.  Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. Online Nov 2014.

2 Bell PG, Walshe IH, Davison GW, Stevenson E, Howatson G. Montmorency cherries reduce the oxidative stress and inflammatory responses to repeated days high-intensity stochastic cycling. Nutrients. 2014;6:829-843.

3 Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, Brouner J, Jewell AP, van Someren KA, Shave RE, Howatson SA. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 2010;6:843-852.

4  Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chestnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010;7:17-22.

Cherry Marketing Institute

Red Means Go: Tart Cherry Industry Launches Campaign Encouraging Endurance Athletes To Fuel Recovery With Tart Cherries

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Keriann Kwalik

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