The tart cherry industry 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 launched in February 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 recent study(1) finds 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 UK 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, PhD, 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 five to seven 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, Triathlete, Women’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.

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.

About the Cherry Marketing Institute
The Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) is a not-for-profit organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI’s mission is to increase the demand for tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research. For more information, including research, recipes, serving ideas and product forms, visit


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.