Bayer signs contract with Nike

Andy Bayer had every reason to feel good about a professional career after his 2012 outdoor track performance when he won the NCAA title in the 1,500 meters and then finished fourth in the event in the Olympic trials.

But 2013 wasn’t quite what he wanted. Bayer won a pair of Big Ten individual championships in the 1,500 meters and the 5,000 meters, but fell well short of defending his NCAA title in the 1,500, finishing eighth with a time of 3:51.39 that was more than eight seconds slower than what he ran in the preliminary round at the event.

So with his college career over, Bayer viewed his first post-collegiate summer on the European circuit as a chance to reassert his case for professional sponsorship.

“I was coming off what was not my best NCAA meet, and I’m sure that didn’t help negotiations,” Bayer said. “So I was basically re-proving myself in Europe this summer. … I knew there was a lot more there. I wanted to go to Europe and test myself. In all of college, I had done well and I had run pretty fast, but I felt like I could run raster. In college, a lot of the races are more tactical, there aren’t rabbits or anything like that. Every race in Europe, there are a lot of good pacers, and I thought getting in that environment would be good, I’d just stick my nose in there and go.” 

That approach worked well enough to get him a sponsorship contract with one of the titans of the industry. After a stellar summer running Diamond League events and other major meets and posting a career-best 1,500 meter time of 3:34.47 at one of them in early July, Bayer said that he has signed a contract with Nike, and that he will move to Portland, Ore., in late October shortly after his wedding to fellow former IU runner Chelsea Blanchard. There he will work with former Wisconsin coach Jerry Schumacher, who now works with Nike sponsored athletes.

Bayer wouldn’t reveal the specifics of the deal, but said he’s certainly making enough to not have to work otherwise.

“It’s awesome,” Bayer said. “I never really dreamed of being able to make money running continue to do this while continuing to support my self. Nike has  so many great resources,  it’s just a great company to have on your side. That’s real exciting. It will be different definitely going from it being something I do to it being my job. I’m kind of excited for that and excited to see the world because running offers that as well.”

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