adidas: Runner 321.


When people with Down syndrome don’t see their community represented in sport, they aren’t able to see what’s possible for them. adidas had a goal to change this by creating a global movement for neurodivergent athletes within the world’s most accessible sport: running.


adidas has a unique mission to break down barriers for marginalized communities and demonstrate to the world that ‘impossible is nothing.’

As part of their goal to partner with the best athletes in the world from diverse backgrounds, adidas had recently sponsored Chris Nikic—the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete the Ironman — making him the first globally-sponsored athlete with Down syndrome.

To showcase their continued commitment to neurodiversity, adidas asked us to create a social movement to include neurodivergent athletes in the world’s most accessible sport: running.


Sports fans idolize and identify with those who achieve the impossible. One of the most common symbols for inspiring the next generation of athletes is an iconic number. Michael Jordan’s 23, Lionel Messi’s 10 or Wayne Gretzky’s 99. Iconic numbers that represent perseverance, dedication and the pinnacle of athletic success.

Iconic numbers have been revered as a symbol of the best athletes of all time.

But in reality, they’ve only represented athletes that fit within the confinements of mainstream sport.

Strategy & Approach.

We set out to create the first iconic number to represent an entire community of neurodivergent athletes who are exceeding what society thinks they can achieve.

Introducing Runner 321, wherein adidas asked the world’s largest organized marathons—including four that are sponsored by Nike, New Balance, and Asics—to reserve Bib 321, representing Trisomy 21 for people with Down syndrome, for a neurodivergent athlete who qualifies.

Our audience: neurodivergent athletes, aspiring and current, who are often relegated to separate competitions. These events signal that neurodivergent athletes are incapable of participating in mainstream competitions, which is far from the truth.

Our strategy was to partner the right brand and the right athlete to create a social movement of inclusion.


Chris Nikic— the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman— was the perfect person to lead a movement to inspire the next generation of neurodivergent athletes.

Runner 321 launched on World Down Syndrome Day with an inspirational video showcasing adidas-sponsored athlete Chris Nikic and a landing page where we encouraged other races to get involved, offering a Runner 321 toolkit with race instructions, social posts and more.

With the announcement coming just weeks before the Boston Marathon, we offered interviews with Chris to local and national media, securing interviews and coverage with four Boston broadcast affiliates and Forbes right off the bat.

Coverage rolled in.

Chris Nikic is breaking down barriers in mainstream sports.

Journalist, Forbes

At the Boston Marathon, Chris debuted as the first Runner 321. At the finish line, he handed his bib to the next Runner 321, Kayleigh Williamson.

We held live activations at the New York, and Boston Marathons and the effort has gone global with all six of the world’s major marathons (Boston, New York, Tokyo, London, Berlin and Chicago) reserving BIB321 for a neurodivergent athlete, and additional races continuing to join the movement.  

Results & Learnings.

Chris’ partnership with adidas made him the first globally sponsored athlete with Down syndrome. Chris shows what is possible for the neurodivergent community.

adidas’ Runner 321 campaign started a social and media movement that continues to grow. Our campaign hero Chris is a Down syndrome athlete who is also an Ironman, ESPY winner, Special Olympics Ambassador, public speaker, published author, adidas-sponsored athlete and an inspiration to the global neurodivergent community. All other athletes featured in our communications have Down syndrome, creating visibility and awareness of what athletes with Down syndrome can accomplish.

Other campaign results:

  • 252 races including, all six of the world’s largest marathons, including four that are sponsored competitive brands, including Nike, New Balance and Asics, reserved a spot for Runner 321 in their 2023 events.
  • 278 athletes, and counting, have signed up to be the next Runner 321.
  • 59 pieces of earned media: 269 million earned media impressions across titles including Forbes, CBS, Fox News, NBC, ABC, Yahoo!, AdAge, MSN, Barstool Sports.
Earned media placements.
269 million
Earned media impressions.
Major world marathons.
Athletes signed up.
Cannes Lions.

adidas Runner 321 has won multiple global awards: no fewer than seven Cannes Lions in 2023 (including the Grand Prix for Corporate Purpose & Social Responsibility); four Clio Sport trophies; PR Week Purpose Awards for Best Advocacy and Best Accessibility campaign. PRWeek US named it the “Best in Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Media” campaign in 2024.

This is not about me. It's about everyone that needs to be included – because if Chris Nikic does the Boston Marathon, I can do it too!

Chris Nikic, Runner321 athlete and ironman

Current Global worked with FCB Toronto to deliver this campaign.


Runner 321: a purpose-led campaign to champion neurodivergent runners

A global movement for neurodivergent athletes within the world's most accessible sport: running.

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Current Global

07970 495600 [email protected]