David Willey, a Senior Vice President of Rodale Inc., is the Editor-in-Chief of Runner’s World, overseeing all editorial operations of the brand, and the Editorial Director of Running Times.
Willey joined Rodale as Editor-in-Chief of Runner’s World in 2003 and oversaw an award-winning redesign of the magazine in 2004, recruiting a roster of new talent to broaden its audience and creative ambition. Since then, the magazine has had the 11 most successful years in its 48-year history, hitting all-time highs in paid circulation (675,000 in 2014), audience (3.1 million in 2014), newsstand sales (reaching an average of 100,000 copies sold per month), international expansion (18 editions in 2014), ad pages, and overall revenues.
In 2006, Willey assumed oversight of runnersworld.com. Since then, traffic has climbed to over 5 million unique visitors and nearly 30 million page views per month, making runnersworld.com the most popular running-content site on the Web. Willey and his team have also expanded into mobile, launching the Shoe Shop and SmartCoach apps, and into paid content, selling branded training plans through the Runner’s World Personal Trainer, which connects to an interactive training log, and launching the award-winning Runner’s World Challenge, which offers readers a chance to train and race with the editors.
Under Willey and his team, Runner’s World has been nominated for 13 National Magazine Awards, the industry’s highest honor, including six for General Excellence (winning for General Excellence Online in 2008). Thirteen Runner’s World feature stories have been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting, and the magazine earned a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award nomination in 2010. The magazine’s design, photography, and illustration is consistently honored by the Society of Publication Designers, Society of Illustrators, and American Illustrator. In recognition of its business success and creative excellence, Runner’s World has been named to the Adweek “Hot List” for magazine media four times and made Advertising Age’s “A-List” in 2005.
While serving as the General Manager of Runner’s World from 2011–2013, Willey extended the brand into new businesses, diversifying its revenue streams. In 2012, Runner’s World entered the race business for the first time, hosting the Runner’s World Half-Marathon and Festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Capitalizing on the success of this annual running event, Runner’s World launched the Heartbreak Hill Half-Marathon and Festival in Boston in June 2014.
Runner’s World publishes several books each year and has expanded successfully into e-books and exclusive e-singles. Notable titles published during Willey’s tenure include 14 Minutes by Alberto Salazar and John Brant; The Long Run by Matt Long with Charles Butler; Running & Being by Dr. George Sheehan, a 35th Anniversary re-issue of the out-of-print bestseller; The Runner’s Rule Book by Mark Remy; The Complete Book of Running by Amby Burfoot; Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore; and Run Your Butt Off! by Sara Lorge Butler and Budd Coates. Willey edited Going Long, an anthology of the best stories from Runner’s World.
Willey has been interviewed on every major television network, including CNN and NBC’s “The Today Show” in addition to other media outlets such as National Public Radio and Google+ Hangouts on air. Since 2008, he has worked as the on-course running reporter for televised broadcasts of the New York City Marathon, running alongside and interviewing athletes such as Lance Armstrong (at six-minute pace); Lyz Glick Best, widow of Flight 93 hero Jeremy Glick; actress Pamela Anderson; and supermodel and activist Christy Turlington. He has also given speeches on running and the evolution of Runner’s World at major marathons, media-industry conferences and alumni events.
Prior to joining Runner’s World, Willey spent more than eight years at Men’s Journal, moving up the editorial ranks to executive editor after starting as an assistant editor in 1995. He joined the board of directors of the American Society of Magazine Editors in 2006 and served as ASME’s president from 2008 to 2010, repositioning the organization to grow and evolve digitally. During his tenure as president, ASME expanded the National Magazine Awards to honor excellence in Digital media and began collaborating with Amazon in the ASME Best Cover Contest.
Willey graduated from Williams College in 1989 and received a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1993. He played four years of varsity football at Williams and on a Michigan state-champion team at East Grand Rapids High School. He has run eight marathons, with a PR of 3:24, and regularly participates in half-marathons and triathlons. He also put a dent in the Green Monster at Fenway Park. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three children.