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July 12, 2013

ULM alum invents running tank top

ULM alum Lauren "Gracie" Clobridge Updyke has invented a new kind of sports bra and running tank top.

Gracie's Gear produces sports bras and tank tops that include Updyke's patented PowerPouch on the front, providing women with space to store items like cell-phones, keys, and MP3 players while they run or work out.

“Over the next five to 10 years, I would like to see Gracie’s Gear in over a million women’s closets,” said Updyke. “Gracie’s Gear eliminates so many barriers and provides so much to so many women.”

Updyke has run since she was 11-years-old. Several years ago, as she trained for her first marathon, she found she had nowhere comfortable to store her belongings while she ran.

“I had to carry my keys and phone to stay safe,” she said. “I literally called my mom and had her sew a pocket on all of my bras and tanks. The rest is history!”

Updyke founded Gracie’s Gear in 2006, but personal tragedies paused the mounting success of the new company.

After rising popularity and features by several major media and news outlets, Updyke brought production to a halt.

In the fall of 2009, six weeks after the birth of her second child, Updyke was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

In 2010, her three-year-old daughter caught a major bacterial infection, ulcerating four of the five layers in her eye.

Fortunately, after months of treatment and daily trips to the doctor, her daughter’s vision was saved and Updyke’s surgery proved successful.

Her company Gracie’s Gear recently saw the successful funding of a campaign on to raise $50,000 for production costs.

“I have always believed the word ‘can’t’ does not exist,” said Updyke. “Our tragedy put life into perspective and brought our family even closer together. Two weeks after my surgery, I raced in the Chicago Marathon for a little boy who was fighting cancer himself. That little boy got me through my marathon. Life is all about perspective.”

Updyke attributes a portion of her success to her time spent at ULM.

She said, “Treina Landrum, director of the wellness program, mentored me to be the best, to be the exercise physiologist I am today.”

To current students, Updyke advises, “Follow your passion and work hard in school. University prepares you for the real world – take it seriously.”

Updyke earned a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology in 2001.

She attended ULM on a full track and field scholarship, having journeyed from South Mountain in Ontario, Canada.

She currently works at Duke University as a Health and Wellness Manager and is an ACSM certified trainer.

Updyke has trained over 10,000 athletes.

To learn more about Gracie’s Gear and the patented PowerPouch, visit

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