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A complete report from the Best Running Stores in America event in Tucson, AZ ...

including the Store of the Year!

JUNE 3, 2019

An Extra Edge in Run Specialty Runner’s Edge in Montana Named 2019 Store of the Year “I can’t believe a store from Missoula is standing up here on this stage. Stores like Naperville Running, Fleet Feet Hartford and Charm City have set the bar high for the channel and given us all a level of service and commitment to aim for.” ANDERS BROOKER, RUNNER’S EDGE

Anders Brooker accepted the 2019 Running Store of the Year on behalf of his employees and his local running community — and his wife who was expecting their first child at any moment.


ven though he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to attend the Best Running Retailers in America event in Tucson, AZ, last month because his wife, Meg, is expecting their first child, Anders Brooker received an extra reward for his effort when his store, Runner’s Edge, of Missoula, MT, was honored as the 2019 Store of the Year. “The baby might be born any minute, but I wanted to be here. So if you want to judge me go ahead,” Brooker joked on a panel that featured the four finalists for store of the year. Runner’s Edge was selected as The Best

Running Store in America from the 60 retailers recognized as the Best Running Stores in America, and he won the final prize from a group of four finalists that also included Charm City Running (Timonium, MD), Fleet Feet West Hartford (West hartford, CT) and Naperville Running Company (Naperville,IL). Brooker opened Runner’s Edge in 2001 with the support of his parents, Tim and Carol. Now 18 years later, this running specialty store is a staple in Missoula. Runners Edge believes in continuing to invest in its community and its retail space and in having the best team possible.

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2019 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.



Upon receiving the award, Brooker thanked his staff and the running community of Missoula. He also recognized the achievements of his fellow finalists. “I can’t believe a store from Missoula is standing up here on this stage,” he said. “Stores like Naperville Running, Fleet Feet Hartford and Charm City have set the bar high for the channel and given us all a level of service and commitment to aim for.” He also shared details of one of his store’s best promotions — its annual Christmas Gift Giving to 100 top customers that coincides with the Runner’s Edge holiday party. The store decks out a rented school bus with holiday lights and drives through town delivering gifts to its top 100 customers. The gift basket typically features food such as Ccoffee and a personalized Runner’s Edge item, such as a cup or a hat. “It’s become such a big deal that customers will come in leading up to the party and buy stuff in an effort to make sure they are a top 100 Customer.” Once the school bus starts rolling and delivering gifts, the word starts to spread on social media. “Customers will post and say ‘The Runner’s Edge bus just came by.’ And of course then everyone starts to wonder if we’ll be stopping by their house.” n


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The Best Retailers Process Explained Explaining the process behind the selection of the 2019 Best Running Stores in America.


pecialty running stores go through a four-step process before being recognized as one of the Best Running Stores in America. 1. First, specialty stores across America are nominated by their customers. More than 12,000 consumer nominations for 300 stores were received. 2. These nominated stores then filled out a questionnaire that details their history, community involvement, the brands they carry and outstanding employees. It then asks to put into their own words what they think qualifies them as one of the Best Running Stores

in America. There are also questions about Most Exceptional Activity, Race Involvement, Social media Efforts, and Charity Groups. 3. An outside consultant was hired to grade their social media interaction with their community across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 4. The nominations, evaluation form and social media grade were then compiled to create a master score and a panel at Diversified Communications created the final list of nominees. All of these factors are then considered before a store is recognized as one of the Best Running Stores in America. n







© 2019 Diversified Communications

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THE BEST IN PICTURES Three pages of highlights from the Best Running Stores in America event in May in Tucson, AZ


he highly anticipated 2019 Best Running Stores in America – with a new expanded format and more retailers being honored – took place May 20-22, 2019 at the beautiful El Conquistador in Tucson, AZ. Attended by the leading executives in the run specialty business and supported by dozens of corporate sponsors,

the 2019 Best Running Stores in America event was certainly the highlight of early 2019 in the run specialty busines. The next three pages provide a photo review of the very special two days in the desert, followed by more than 20 pages of mini-profiles on all of the Best Running Stores in America recipients. n

This way to Casita Boulevard, home for the brands.

A group of running friends gathered at the awards dinner: Glen Kamps and Nick Hurley from Dick Pond; Katie Helbig and Kim AuBuchon from Big River Running; Dave Martinez from Big Peach and Kevin McHale from ASICS.

Jenny Broad and Josh Lacan celebrate for Red Coyote.

In the Zone: Teague Hatfield celebrates with Sarah Graham, Meaghan McCluskey and Colleen Moyer.



© 2019 Diversified Communications


The early morning Fun Run, sponsored by RICS Software and Maxwell Medals, drew some intrepid souls onto the golf course at the El Conquistador Resort. There’s nothing happier than Happy Hour at the Best Running Stores in America event, including friends from Gazelle Sports and Run Moore.



Jessi Johnson and Dave Zakavec from Shoes & Brews. Everyone is all smiles during the Best Running Stores in America.

Š 2019 Diversified Communications

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Kris Hartner from NRC.

Girl Power: Women Winners celebrate.

Connecticut’s Finest: Stephanie Blozy of Fleet Feet Hartford and Megan Searfoss of Ridgefield Running.

Chris Rogers of Lincoln Running Company.

Team Johnson with North Wales Running Company, Fit2Run and Columbus Running.



Eric Fruth of Columbus Running Company.

Picture this: Palmetto Running has an Instagramable moment.

Š 2019 Diversified Communications

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Power Through, Power On.

The Future of Specialty Retail Revealed Parker Karnan takes a look ahead during his Best Running Stores in America presentation.


arker Karnan has seen the future of run specialty and has one word to describe it. “Personal,” said the founder of Karnan Associates, who led two sessions at The Best Running Stores in America last month in Tucson. “Personal service and marketing are the great advantage that run specialty has over any other retail channel.” To be successful, stores need to apply the “personal” touch to all aspects of their business and especially understanding their customers’ behaviors. On a basic level, Karnan said stores need to know the following about every customer: • Product Preference. • Frequency of Purchase. • Gender and Age. • Event Participation. Once the store understands and captures 14


those behaviors, it can create superspecific targeted marketing that will drive sales and keep costs down. For example, when a customer e-mail has a personalized subject line, such as “Hey Mary Lou, we have your favorite shoe in stock,” there is a 37 percent increase in open rates. When content is personalized, click through rates jump 41 percent and there is a six percent higher purchase rate than non-personalized communication, Karnan said. He added that such practices also keep customer acquisition costs down. “In cases where we have stores we work with who do all this personalization, customer acquisition costs decreased by 73 percent.” Some of Karnan’s other tips on how to personalize marketing include: • Use targeted ads on social media. • Optimize your e-mail capture from customers. Industry average for stores is to capture 65 percent of e-mail addresses from new customers. “We suggest tying the e-mail request into loyalty and rewards programs,” he said. “And then once you have the e-mails, create custom communications to these customers.” Karnan suggests segmenting outreach by demographics, zip codes, event registration, brand preference and purchase date of a product. “We had one of our store clients where sales were down in one location and discovered that the neutral shoe category was the culprit. We identified 350 people who hadn’t purchased new shoes in the past year and targeted them with an e-mail blast getting them back into the store. It was a great example of customer re-acquisition and really got sales back on track.” Parker Karnan will be hosting a special session at The Running Event this Fall for Best Store winners. He can be reached at parker@karnanassociates.com. n

“Personal service and marketing are the great advantage that run specialty has over any other retail channel. To be successful, stores need to apply the personal touch to all aspects of their business and especially understanding their customers’ behaviors.” PARKER KARNAN

© 2019 Diversified Communications



CHARLES RIVER RUNNING Norwood, MA www.charlesriverrunning.com

CHARM CITY RUN Baltimore, MD www.charmcityrun.com



In Their Words: Brooklyn Running Company is the only independent running specialty shop in Brooklyn. Founded in 2013, the shop has elevated NYC’s expectations for exceptional customer service and shoe fittings. BRC offers a curated product assortment of mainstream and boutique brands strongly influenced by a Brooklyn aesthetic. Through events like the Brooklyn Mile, we aspire to contribute to the vibrant, diverse NYC running community and culture in ways that extend far beyond a traditional running store.

In Their Words: When Charlotte Walsh opened Charles River Running in Norwood, MA, seven years ago, her hope was to create a welcoming space where all runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts would feel comfortable, respected and uplifted. Finding a properly fitting shoe suited for a runner’s needs and biomechanics should be a pleasant and informative experience and the staff at Charles River Running strives to provide the very best service. We are also the home to Thursday Strong, a truly inclusive community running club whose members meet weekly at the store. They’ve become a regular fixture of the town, caroling during the holidays, plogging for Earth Day and supporting their local watering holes with summer beer mile events.

In Their Words: Charm City Run was co-founded by Josh and Kara Levinson in 2002. The first shop opened in Timonium, MD, and has since expanded to Annapolis, Bel Air, Columbia, Frederick and Fells Point and Locust Point in Baltimore. The events business times and manages more than 120 races per year. As a whole, CCR is dedicated to giving back by donating one percent of sales every year to a variety of environmental and health local nonprofits.

© 2019 Diversified Communications


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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 FLEET FEET HARTFORD West Hartford, CT www.fleetfeethartford.com

FLEET FEET MAINE RUNNING Portland, ME www.fleetfeetmainerunning.com

FLEET FEET MONTCLAIR Montclair, NJ www.fleetfeetmontclair.com



In Their Words: The Blozy sisters became owners of Fleet Feet Hartford in June of 2008 and have made it more than just a shoe store. They have made it a starting line — a place of inspiration and perspiration where dreams turn into reality. They support the community that shops with them as well as those who cannot. They believe in being a spark for good and joy in their world.

In Their Words: The store opened in February 2005 as Maine Running Company and converted to Fleet Feet Maine Running in 2013 by owner and operator John Rogers and is Maine’s only run specialty store. Fleet Feet Maine Running offers an unparalleled fit experience with Fleet Feet’s 3D Fit ID Scanning. We are committed to growing Maine’s running and walking community with a variety of training programs, our free year-round run club and Winter Warriors Program. Additionally, our commitment to give back to our community includes raising thousands of dollars for Portland Trails, with our Weekly Back Cove Series, The Maine Cancer Foundation, Center For Grieving Children, Girls On The Run and many more.

In Their Words: Since 1987 Fleet Feet Montclair owners John and Dawn Fabbro have inspired people to run, walk and be fit. Serving the community has always been our highest priority. There is nothing more satisfying than having a customer return to tell us that they completed their first 5K, their shoes fit perfectly and they had fun in the process. We are humbled and grateful to share our passion for small local business, physical fitness, inclusion and service with like-minded employees and community supporters.

© 2019 Diversified Communications



BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 FLEET FEET PITTSBURGH Pittsburgh, PA www.fleetfeetpittsburgh.com

FLEET FEET RICHMOND Richmond, VA www.fleetfeetrichmond.com

FLEET FEET ROANOKE Roanoke, VA www.fleetfeetroanoke.com



In Their Words: Fleet Feet Pittsburgh is the longest serving running store in western Pennsylvania. We opened in October, 2001 and I purchased the business in 2007. We are located in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Our vision at Fleet Feet Pittsburgh is to continue to be our community’s go-to resource and premium destination for all things running. In support of that vision is our mission, which is to inspire and empower our community through social engagement, personalized solutions and dynamic retail experiences. The success of our business is rooted in core values, which include putting people first, doing the right thing, fostering a culture of accountability, leading from the front, being present in every moment and working passionately. We are relentless in our pursuit of excellence.

In Their Words: Fleet Feet Richmond opened its first location June, 2014 in the Richmond Westhampton neighborhood and a second location June, 2015 in the Short Pump suburb. We are owned and operated by Jeff, Jason (son) and Ashley (daughter-in-law) Wells, who have all been in the Fleet Feet specialty run business for 18 years. In our brief Richmond five years, we have become entrenched in our community and we continually find ways to stay active in and give back to our town. We strive to deliver a premium experience to each customer that enters our stores. We are committed to our customers’ happiness and satisfaction.

In Their Words: Since Blaine and Robin Lewis opened the doors to Fleet Feet Roanoke in March of 2003, the previous two-man show has turned into a small business with 14 full-time employees, thousands of individuals turned family through training programs, a growing running/ walking community, and a movement. In 2015, Blaine and Robin founded Project Forward, a 501(c)3 non-profit with a sole mission to give back to those less fortunate in the local community.

© 2019 Diversified Communications


BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 FLEET FEET ROCHESTER Rochester, NY www.fleetfeetrochester.com

In Their Words: Fleet Feet Syracuse, owned and operated by Ed and Ellen Griffin, opened its doors in 2000. With two locations currently, Fleet Feet Syracuse has had a lasting impact on the community over the past 19 years by changing people’s lives through running. From the No Boundaries Learn to Run program, which more than 8000 people have gone through, to additional training programs focused on speed, distance, indoor cycling, trail running and cross training, Fleet Feet Syracuse offers something for everyone. Fleet Feet Syracuse has been one of the Top 50 Running Stores in America for 13 years since 2006 and was named Best Running Store in America in 2012.

FLEET FEET SYRACUSE Syracuse, NY www.fleetfeetsyracuse.com

MARATHON SPORTS Boston, MA www.marathonsports.com



In Their Words: Fleet Feet Rochester opened its first store in July, 2004, then its second in 2011. In 2014, we also purchased Fleet Feet Buffalo to round out western New York. The Rochester Armory and Ridgeway locations offer a retail experience complete with professional footwear fitting with the FitID 3D Scanner, plus an abundance of training programs from walking to fitness classes to 5K or even marathon training. In addition, we are the home of our sister company, YellowJacket Racing, which produces upwards of 50 races regionally.

In Their Words: Founded in 1975 in a renovated first-floor apartment near Harvard Square (Cambridge), Marathon Sports has grown to 11 retail locations, bringing our Right Fit process, unparalleled customer experience and community outreach to runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts across the Bay State. Our motto is “Keeping Your Life in Motion” and our aim is to promote a healthy lifestyle, whether it’s running 40 miles a week or just being motivated to make small healthy choices like taking a walk at lunch. Though we have grown, our reason for being remains the same — we exist to inspire people to meet and exceed their health and fitness goals. This simple statement drives everything we do, every day, in every store.

© 2019 Diversified Communications

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NORTH WALES RUNNING COMPANY North Wales, PA www.northwalesrunningco.com

PACERS RUNNING Washington DC www.runpacers.com



In Their Words: Medved Running and Walking Outfitters was established in 1984 and caters to Rochester’s running, walking and outdoor fitness community. We are family owned and operated and we believe strongly in supporting our community through our involvement in races and other local events. Our team has a passion for helping people improve their lives through running and fitness and are the reason we have been designated one of the Best Running Stores in America.

In Their Words: North Wales Running Company opened in April, 2006 in North Wales, PA. Seven years later the owner, Scott Tantino, opened a second location in Phoenixville, PA, All Kinds of Fast. We want to be our customers’ partner in their journey to happiness and health, so our customer service is focused on that. Some days we are coaches, some days we are cheerleaders and we are always teammates of our clientele.

In Their Words: A Washington, DC metro area mainstay since 1991, Pacers Running has grown into a nationally recognized community-based retailer and producer of compelling consumer engagement activations and events. Led by principals Chris Farley and Kathy Dalby, Pacers Running is laser-focused on our mission to celebrate the journey and accomplishments of all runners, leading us to build authenticity and relevancy with our customers and our community.

© 2019 Diversified Communications

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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 POTOMAC RIVER RUNNING Washington, DC www.potomacriverrunning.com

RIDGEFIELD RUNNING COMPANY Ridgefield, CT www.ridgefieldrunning.com

ROBERT’S RUNNING AND WALKING SHOP Huntington, WV www.robertsrunning.com



In Their Words: Potomac River Running, owned by Cathy and Ray Pugsley, first opened in 2003 and currently operates nine doors in northern Virginia and DC. By continually evolving the in-store experience and providing first-class service, PRR has been a fixture in the Best Retailers contest since its inception. Potomac River Running’s retail stores integrate perfectly with their robust training programs and wide variety of races to create a full-service running community worthy of being a Best Retailer in America.

In Their Words: Ridgefield Running Company believes that constant forward motion is paramount to a healthy self. RRC opened in Fall, 2014 in the tiny New England town of Ridgefield, CT. Owner Megan Searfoss and her team want every customer to feel confident in moving forward through their personalized fit process, which starts on the fit stool and extends through product education clinics, training programs and community outreach.

In Their Words: Robert’s Running and Walking Shop is the only specialty shop of its kind in Huntington and Charleston, WV. Our experienced staff is trained to analyze a runner’s gait and provide a custom objective fit for their shoes, socks and apparel. We will examine feet, arch shape and biomechanics to determine the best shoe for individual needs.

© 2019 Diversified Communications


BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 RUN MOORE Westminster, MD www.letsrunmoore.com

WHIRLAWAY SPORTS Methuen, MA www.whirlawaysports.com



In Their Words: Owner Steve Moore opened Run Moore in downtown Westminster, MD in 2014. Run Moore has worked with the community to make a home for all runners and walkers to receive support and guidance through our knowledge and passion. With the goal to share the joys of running and exercise, we have worked to grow a healthy and active lifestyle within our community through personalized and attentive customers service.

In Their Words: Whirlaway Sports is celebrating its 35th year in business this year. Owner Dave Kazanjian prides himself on his management team and entire staff. I can’t say enough about Maggi and Adriana and what they have done, along with my entire staff. We try to offer our customers a unique and unparalleled shopping experience. If our customers don’t leave here saying, ‘Wow!’ then we haven’t done our job. With more than 4000-square feet of space, our store is housed in a complex with a golf pro shop and breakfast diner and sits on a 16-acre golf driving range. Whirlaway Driving Range is the oldest family-owned range in the country.

© 2019 Diversified Communications

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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 1ST PLACE SPORTS Jacksonville, FL www.1stplacesports.com

BIG PEACH RUNNING COMPANY Atlanta, GA www.bigpeachrunningco.com

BULL CITY RUNNING Durham, NC www.bullcityrunning.com



In Their Words: 1st Place Sports opened its first store in September, 1978. It was founded by Doug and Jane Alred, who remain involved in day-to-day operations. There are currently four locations, with a fifth in the works to open by the end of the year. In addition to the stores, we have a race management company that owns and manages close to 100 events each year. 1st Place Sports is the epitome of what the run specialty community is all about and has been a staple of everything running in northeast Florida for 40 years. The store was built on a foundation of care and customer service. 1st Place Sports prides itself on carrying the best and most innovative products in the running industry.

In Their Words: Co-owned by Mike Cosentino and Steve DeMoss, Big Peach Running Co. was founded in May, 2004 and has become the trusted resource for the Atlanta running community, delivering an unforgettable experience rooted in service excellence, unparalleled product knowledge, and a fun, friendly atmosphere. There are seven well-established locations, with an additional and increasingly popular mobile unit serving underserved areas and other opportunities, including schools and corporate campuses.

In Their Words: Bull City Running Co. opened in 2008 as the first specialty running shop in Durham, NC. Owners Kim Chapman and Jason Page lead an extraordinary team that makes it their goal every day to exceed customer expectations by creating a fun, informative and inspiring experience for people pursuing their fitness goals. Bull City Running is a “come as you are” kind of running shop that is focused on meeting athletes where they are and encouraging them on their journey.

© 2019 Diversified Communications



FIT2RUN Sarasota, FL www.fit2run.com

FITNICHE Lakeland, FL www.fitniche.com



In Their Words: The Charlotte Running Company (CRC) opened its first location in June of 2000 as a passionate endeavor between two nationally ranked distance runners and former competitors, Scott Dvořák and Eric Hichman. Since that time, under Dvořák’s guidance, the brand has grown to five stores with three owners — Dvořák, Donny Forsyth and Jamie Davis. CRC has seen its success come not only from the product it sells, and the knowledge, experience, and friendly disposition of its employees, but also from the relationships that have been forged in the local Charlotte running community. CRC donates both time and money to several local running based charities, including Letmerun.org, Crosscountryforyouth.org, Girlsontherun.org and Runningworks.org.

In Their Words: Fit2Run is a family owned and operated running company, founded in 2006, by Bill and Parks Robinson. Operating 12 stores across Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico, Fit2Run is dedicated to supporting runners in all aspects of the running journey. Fit2Run, The Runner’s Superstore, offers expert running advice, and the best assortment of footwear, apparel and accessories and a group run club out of all 12 stores. With the addition of Fit2Time, a race management service, Fit2Run now also offer runners locally produced and timed events. The Fit2Run team believes everyone is a runner and is dedicated to supporting runners to the finish line of any race they start.

In Their Words: FITniche opened in 2005, selling shoes and home gym equipment because we weren’t quite sure we could sell enough shoes in Lakeland, FL, to make a go of it. Since then, we’ve been focused on helping customers reclaim the fun and joy of running that we believe resides innately in all of us — and we’ve ditched the gym equipment. We’ve also been focused on improving our sales and buying performance in every aspect of the business. Today, we operate three stores and a timing business.

© 2019 Diversified Communications






BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 In Their Words: Fleet Feet Huntsville was opened in 2004 by Dink and Suzanne Taylor. We are truly a family of running. We believe that the one thing makes us stand out as one of the Best Running Stores is our commitment to the community. In 2018 we supported more than 150 events in the North Alabama area, donating over $190,000. We have more than a dozen training programs a year with approximately 1000 participants. We love getting others involved in running and changing lives. We truly get to live the dream everyday.

FLEET FEET HUNTSVILLE Huntsville, AL www.fleetfeethuntsville.com

FLEET FEET NASHVILLE Brentwood, TN www.fleetfeetnashville.com

GET FIT Amarillo, TX www.mygetfitplace.com



In Their Words: Currently with three locations in Middle Tennessee, the first store in Brentwood opened February, 2002. I’m the proud #bossbabe, Christi Beth Adams. I had a unique opportunity as an employee to take a path to ownership and after that I added two locations in Green Hills and Hendersonville. We’re a team of big-hearted folks seeking to educate, serve and inspire, always on the lookout for ways we can surprise and delight our customers. We believe it’s less about the shoes and more about how we make people feel with our words and actions. We welcome all. #allpeopleallpaces

In Their Words: Get Fit opened in the summer of 2009 with Karen’s vision of creating an environment where people can establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get Fit serves runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts alike with a welcoming and non-judgmental approach. The Get Fit philosophy also includes a philanthropy aspect with a focus on giving back to the local community. Our conscientious and dedicated staff is the main reason Get Fit is The Best in 2019.

© 2019 Diversified Communications



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I RUN TEXAS San Antonio, TX www.Iruntexas.net

PALMETTO RUNNING Hilton Head Island, SC www.palmettorunningco.com



In Their Words: Our independent running store in Katy, TX opened its doors in Fall, 2018 with partners Andrea Witte, Nick Waak, Sarah Priest and Steve Brammer and associates, Maryann Ramirez, Patrick Pitts and Wayne Walters. Individually, we’re collegiate athletes, career coaches, podium-finishers, Ironmen, and ultra-marathon runners — together, a team supporting goal-driven beginners and lifelong athletes. With a footwear obsession and passion for all things running related, our core service provides information and direction. Being among the best local community is what’s lifted GTRC to be one of the Best Running Stores in America.

In Their Words: In December 2009, iRun Texas opened as Run On! San Antonio, a partnership with owners Michele and Mitch Allen and the owners of Dallas-based running stores, Run On! In October 2012, the Run On! stores in the Dallas area sold, necessitating the name change of the San Antonio store. Rebranding as iRun Texas and buying out the partnership in December of 2012, the Allen’s opened their second location in May, 2013. The third location opened January, 2015. We strive to encourage runners and walkers of all ages and abilities in achieving their highest level of health and fitness goals through our courteous and knowledgeable staff, comprehensive product line, and quality training programs. We also feel our bra fitting process is just as extensive and important as fitting for shoes.

In Their Words: It all started with a club. When Rob Fyfe moved from New York to Bluffton, SC in 2010 he noticed something was missing — a running community. So he began connecting area runners and walkers and started the PRC Run Club. After realizing the demand for a specialty running store in the Lowcountry area, Rob decided to take the next step and open up Palmetto Running Company in Bluffton in 2011. A year later, Christian Fyfe (Rob’s son) joined him in ownership and helped grow the company and brand to where it is today, including opening a second store location on Hilton Head Island in 2014. For PRC it’s not just about selling products. It’s about working together as a family, loving what we do, and serving the community.

© 2019 Diversified Communications


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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 RUN FOR YOUR LIFE Charlotte, NC www.runforyourlife.com

RUSH RUNNING Rogers, AR www.rushrunning.com

ST. PETE RUNNING COMPANY St. Petersburg, FL www.stpeterunningcompany.com



In Their Words: It’s not the inventory, the location or the service that makes a running store great — even good stores have that. It’s the people that make Run For Your Life one of the best. The people who work here and those who call it their running store have made Run For Your Life Charlotte’s ground zero for the sport since 1989. By valuing community, inspiring runners of all abilities and approaching the work with a servant’s heart, owners Chris Elkins and Tim Rhodes have grown Run For Your Life to three locations.

In Their Words: Rush Running Company is a local, independent, family-owned running store with three locations in northwest Arkansas. They are, and always have been, committed to the small-store atmosphere with an emphasis on world-class customer service and knowledge. Mike and Alison Rush opened the store in 2008 in Bentonville, AR and quickly gained notoriety as they won Best Running Store in America in 2018. Their commitment to their community is what sets them apart from most other stores you’ll ever see.

In Their Words: A single-store company, St. Pete Running Co. just hit their fifth year in sunny St. Pete. Owners Cody and Janna Angell have created a community of runners and walkers that transcends a typical retail store. Their 10 employees curate more than 100 fun activities each year with the ultimate goal of a healthy and active St. Pete. Above all, the store prides itself on great customer service and commitment to its community. And you can find their loyal following, The Sunny Runners, all over town wearing their SPRC gear.

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In Their Words: True Grit Running Company opened in Fort Smith, AR in 2016 to inspire folks in the Arkansas River Valley to live an active, healthy lifestyle. Melissa Vitale opened TGRC to share her love of running with her hometown. Familiar faces and new customers visit us seeking advice or solutions and having a wide range of experience to help runners and walkers of all levels succeed and reach their goals makes us one of the best.

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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 BIG RIVER RUNNING St. Louis, MO www.bigriverrunning.com

COLUMBUS RUNNING Dublin, OH www.columbusrunning.com

DAVE’S RUNNING SHOP Sylvania, OH www.davesrunning.com



In Their Words: Big River Running (est. 2006) has three locations in the St. Louis area. Our flagship store is one of the most beautiful retail spaces and continues to see extensive growth in sales. In addition, the design, presentation and attention to detail are practically unrivaled in the run specialty industry. Our customers love receiving handwritten thank you notes after they shop at Big River and attending our fun in-store events such as plogging, hip and glute strength clinics and boot camp workouts.

In Their Words: The idea of community has been the cornerstone of the Columbus Running Company since the shop opened its doors in 2004. Owned and operated by Matt DeLeon, Eric Fruth and Jim Jurcevich, the CRC is a four-door operation in central Ohio. The CRC focuses on run retail, event management and grassroots training programs, using those three key aspects of the business to support local runners and walkers every day of the year.

In Their Words: Dave’s Running Shop has been serving the northwest Ohio community since 1973. Still owned by the Mason family of Delta, OH, Dave’s is proud to operate four retail locations, as well as a full-service race management company. Our motto – “Get Faster, Go Farther, Feel Better” – guides everything we do, from in-store operations and community wellness initiatives, to marathon training groups. We’re proud to be Ohio’s Original Running Shop, 46 years and counting.

© 2019 Diversified Communications


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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 DICK POND ATHLETICS Carol Stream, IL www.dickpondathletics.com

In Their Words: Fleet Feet Chicago was opened in 1996 by the current owners Dave and Lisa Zimmer. With seven locations throughout Chicagoland, Fleet Feet Chicago stays true to run specialty by curating captivating product collections, along with grassroots marketing efforts — all while pushing the boundaries on innovation. Today their mission is reprogramming a 20th century brick-andmortar business into 21st century lifestyle brand that fits into active lives.

FLEET FEET CHICAGO Chicago, IL www.fleetfeetchicago.com

FLEET FEET DAVENPORT Davenport, IA www.fleetfeetdavenport.com



In Their Words: In August 1969, before there were shopping malls, mail-order megastores or Amazon, Dick Pond Athletics was born. Dick Pond, an accomplished high school distance runner and All-American from WMU, wanted to offer quality running shoes at an affordable price and exceptional customer service. He started by doing so out of the back of his car, then his garage and eventually opened his first retail store in 1984. His mission remains our mission today, with our five retail locations, four travelling shoemobiles and a booming mail order business.

In Their Words: Fleet Feet Davenport was opened in March of 2016 by Davenport native Phil Young and his wife, Jackie. The store has been received well in three short years in a previously established running community, most notably due to the refreshing kindness of the staff, the inclusive and celebratory nature of its running club and events and the desire of the owners to not only give back to the community, but to serve the city well as an end unto itself.

© 2019 Diversified Communications

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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 GAZELLE SPORTS Kalamazoo, MI www.gazellesports.com

JOHN’S RUN/WALK SHOP Lexington, KY www.johnsrunwalkshop.com

LINCOLN RUNNING Lincoln, NE www.lincrunningcompany.com



In Their Words: At Gazelle Sports we actively pursue, encourage and celebrate a healthy lifestyle. We strive for retail excellence by providing the world’s best customer care, focusing on a never-ending commitment to unmatched product knowledge and creating friendly, positive relationships with customers, vendors and our communities.

In Their Words: Located in Lexington, KY, John’s Run/ Walk Shop first started in 1978. John Sensing, the store’s namesake, had such a passion for running and walking that he was a main factor in bringing this sport to the Bluegrass. Now in the 40th year of operation, John’s Run/ Walk Shop continues to maintain promotion of inclusion in running and walking, supporting and giving back to the local community, and creating quality races for all ability levels!

In Their Words: The Lincoln Running Co was opened in 1976 by Derald and Judy Rogers and has been a familyowned store since then — in fact, owned by this same family and now in the third generation of owners. One of the things that makes us special is our longevity — 44 years in the same location, We have remained vibrant because we have been through it all, the ups and downs of running — and the economy. We have learned to change with the ebbs and flows of the running industry and stay true to what we believe. We know we can’t be everything to everyone, but we can be everything to our customers. We ensure our employees are not only knowledgeable, but more importantly, empathetic. We can teach anyone about shoes, but empathy has to be there in that employee from the beginning.

© 2019 Diversified Communications

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BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 MILL CITY RUNNING Minneapolis, MN www.millcityrunning.com

NAPERVILLE RUNNING COMPANY Naperville, IL www.runningcompany.com

PLAYMAKERS Okemos, WI www.playmakers.com



In Their Words: Mill City Running opened its doors in 2013 after co-owners Rebekah and Jeff Metzdorff sought to bring a unique retail experience to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Finding inspiration in both run specialty stores and urban boutiques, Mill City looks to expand the customer’s expectations of their local run shop.

In Their Words: Naperville Running Company was founded in May of 2000 by Kris Hartner. Our second location opened in Naperville in 2014 and a third in Wheaton in 2017. Never selling short product knowledge, an extensive staff training program, our cutting-edge fitting technology, or our love for our community, our staff is what makes us one of the best. Putting together 34 passionate, thoughtful and loyal employees is our recipe for success and we couldn’t be more grateful for their love of NRC and eagerness to serve others.

In Their Words: Playmakers was founded in 1981 by Curt and Judy Munson in Okemos, MI, with a mission to provide an enjoyable and productive environment to work, shop or visit along with a commitment to serve the community. Since its inception, Playmakers has been an integral part of the Greater Lansing Community. In 2011, the Playmakers Fitness Foundation was established with the mission of getting people to Move More and Move Better and impacts more than 20,000 people each year. Playmakers is lead by current owners, John Benedict, Brian Jones and Tom Keenoy.

© 2019 Diversified Communications



RED COYOTE Oklahoma City, OK www.redcoyoterunning.com

In Their Words: RC Outfitters, formerly Running Central, is located in Peoria, IL and first opened in 1977. RCO has been owned and operated by Adam and Marie White since 2007. With a full selection of lifestyle apparel such as denim, sweaters, dresses, khakis and an entire kids’ footwear department beginning at first walkers through youth shoes, this is unlike any “running” store in the industry.

In Their Words: Red Coyote Running and Fitness is was founded by Jon and Burke Beck in 2010 and is named after their favorite running buddy, their dog, Pancho. Since 2010 Red Coyote has expanded to two locations and currently has 34 employees. Red Coyote is dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle in Oklahoma City, which is consistently ranked as one of the 10 unhealthiest cities in the US. Red Coyote has built strong relationships within its community, hosting six free social runs/week, with Thursday Night Pack Pint Runs regularly having over 200 runners and walkers in attendance. Red Coyote also has over 1500 people participate in its training programs a year and has strong partnerships with Girls on the Run and Cleats for Kids, outfitting over 1200 kiddos with shoes in 2018.

© 2019 Diversified Communications




BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 A RUNNER’S MIND San Francisco, CA www.arunnersmind.com

A SNAIL’S PACE Fountain Valley, CA www.asnailspace.net

FLEET FEET SPOKANE Spokane, WA www.fleetfeetspokane.com



In Their Words: A Runner’s Mind, the Bay Area’s local run specialty store with locations in Burlingame, San Francisco and Los Altos, was founded in 2010 by Monte Keleher. ARM’s motto is “Movement is Life,” whether that’s walking a mile or winning a marathon. We strive to be the best in the world delivering the ultimate guest experience with world-class knowledge. That’s what ARMing up means to us.

In Their Words: Founded in 1979, A Snail’s Pace has been serving the Southern California running and walking communities for 40 years. Our continued focus on customer service and community involvement has proven to be what customers appreciate and support. In addition, innovative technology (3D scanner and fit process) and programs (Ninja Runner, Running Club, Running Academy) keeps our community interested and involved. That, along with amazing vendor support makes for a tremendously enjoyable work life. Eddie Johnson, Tiffany Johnson and Joe Lourenco keep the motor running.

In Their Words: Fleet Feet Spokane opened in 2012. Owners Wade and Julie Pannell took a leap of faith, left their day jobs and started a vibrant small business. In the past six years, they have grown to create over 75 jobs in the Pacific Northwest. Fleet Feet Spokane is committed to helping create a more fit community and changing lives daily, one person at a time.

© 2019 Diversified Communications


BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 FOOT ZONE Bend, OR www.footzonebend.com

RUN HUB NORTHWEST Eugene, OR www.runhubnw.com

RUNNER’S EDGE Missoula, MT www.runnersedgemt.com

In Their Words: FootZone has been serving the good people of Central Oregon since 1995. Teague Hatfield opened the store as a manager and has been the owner since 1999. Like so many great shops, we work to make our town more active and unique at every opportunity. We owe any and all accolades to a healthy work culture, an awesome crew and the community that supports us.

In Their Words: Run Hub Northwest opened in May of 2015 in Eugene, OR and is owned by husband and wife, Dustin and Kris Pearce. Run Hub does a great job of promoting community through running, forming social connections around physical activity and making it a lifestyle, not just a fitness activity that you do. Run Hub’s training programs, community runs, events and relationship-based customer service all contribute to making this a special quality of Run Hub.

In Their Words: The Runner’s Edge was opened by Anders Brooker in 2001 with the support of his parents, Tim and Carol. Now 18 years later, this running specialty store is a staple in Missoula, MT. Runners Edge believes in continuing to invest in their community, their space and having the best team possible and are grateful for the customer support they are shown each day.

© 2019 Diversified Communications





SHOES AND BREWS Longmont, CO www.shoesbrews.com

TERRA RUNNING COMPANY Cleveland, TN www.terrarunning.com



In Their Words: Salt Lake Running Company, owned by Guy and Debbie Perry, opened in 1995 as a small 1250-square-foot space with the simple objective of selling stuff to runners. SLRC has evolved to three stores with a clear objective to support people who seek to move their bodies anywhere, from the gym to the trail. Along with a strong customer service focus, SLRC provides their active community with shopping, training, educational and racing opportunities.

In Their Words: Shoes and Brews was established in 2014 after three collegiate runners came up with the dream to combine specialty run and craft beer. Nearly five years later, Shoes and Brews has a thriving community of runners and beer drinkers alike. Executing arguably the best 5K after-party in Colorado, S&B races offer all-you-can-drink beer, unique and awesome race swag and an unrivaled raffle for all participants. Community oriented and family friendly, our culture elevates us to be a destination for all.

In Their Words: Terra Running Company is located in Cleveland, TN, and has grown the running community in our town over the past three years through our store, timing, business and new coffee shop. Owners Brittany and David Durkin purchased a historic downtown Cleveland building in 2018 and did a complete renovation. The store moved into the new building adjacent to their new coffee shop, Bear Brew Coffee, in Spring 2018. We pride ourselves on being approachable and understanding, great for runners, walkers, and locals who need quality shoes.

Š 2019 Diversified Communications


BEST RUNNING STORES IN AMERICA 2019 TORTOISE & HARE Glendale, AZ www.tortoiseandharesports.com

In Their Words: Tortoise & Hare Sports opened in May, 2012 in Glendale, AZ. Owned by Rebecca and Nathan Hohenstein, Tortoise & Hare Sports has been named to the Best Running Stores list seven times. The secret of our success has been our team members. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a strong team that has been laser focused on the customer and the customer experience in-store.

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© 2019 Diversified Communications



Obit: Duncan Finigan

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Duncan’s Pan Mass Challenge fund for the benefit of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 77 4th Avenue, Needham MA 02494, for the account of Duncan Finigan, DF0219 or visit https://donate.pmc.org/DF0219.

OOFOS exec and cancer cure advocate passes away after courageous battle.


uncan Finigan, the brand leader and marketing director for OOFOS, passed away on Saturday, May 25, surrounded by her husband and four sons. Finigan had been bravely battling cancer since her diagnosis in October, 2014 and her courageous and very public fight with the disease inspired many in the industry and in her home state of Massachusetts. Throughout her fight, Finigan remained upbeat and positive, working industry events on behalf of OOFOS and working out just about every day. “She was so positive all the way through, it seemed like cancer didn’t have a chance,” says Kris Hartner, of Naperville Running, an early OOFOS customer and good friend. “She was a positive adversary against breast cancer and should be remembered for that,” adds John Rogers, of Fleet Feet Maine Running, who worked with Duncan at Reebok and later became a friend and customer. This past fall Duncan rode in her fourth Pan-Mass Challenge Bike Ride to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she was being treated. After the race, she wrote: “I can’t believe I’m in my fourth PMC year! I wasn’t even sure if I would be here for four years when diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in November of 2014! Let’s make it 10 years of riding as a start by all helping us raise funds so the Dana-Farber research team can continue for find solutions to stop our cancer from growing, and someday find a cure in our lifetime!” Throughout the process, Finigan wrote personal, detailed blogs that chronicled what she was thinking and experiencing. “There is no way to accurately describe the emotions that swept through me in October, 2014 when Tom (my awesome husband) and I heard the devastating news from my doctors that I had stage 4 breast cancer – which I now only refer to as ‘treatable, non-curable 56


Duncan Finigan made her mark in the industry at both Reebok and, most recently, OOFOS.

cancer.’ People don’t cry when I say that; whereas when they hear “stage 4” they usually cry. My mentality is to fight it — not to cry about it! “I felt perfectly healthy when I received the diagnosis. I had recently had my first appointment with a new OB/GYN. He finished with a hand exam and was not completely comfortable with things. He asked me to go in for an early mammogram just to be sure there wasn’t anything going on. The mammogram didn’t show anything and they followed up with an ultrasound, which also didn’t show anything conclusive. Four weeks later, I had an MRI and it led the doctor to explore further with a biopsy. That is when the cancer was detected. After a week of tests, I was diagnosed with stage 4 — meaning it had spread to my bones. “I was in shock, but quickly asked: ‘So, what are we going to do about it?’ My family and I set out to find the best medical team. There was no time to feel sorry for myself. And that brought us to Dana Farber. “Within days, the unbelievable doctors, medical team and entire community at Dana Farber made me feel like I had a new

extended family. They have been there for me every step of the way. I quickly learned that they have access to research and the latest drugs. More importantly, I learned they have an in describable dedication to their patients. They were able to give me a prognosis that I have ‘many, many years to live.’ My job is to trust and live my life fully every day and trust them to have access to solutions for me to fight my cancer for ‘many, many years.’” Finigan was among the first employees hired by OOFOS and the company quickly rallied behind her. “OOFOS has been my most recent career adventure. This team of friends had developed a technology that was filling an unmet need in the marketplace and is truly making a positive difference in people’s lives. I decided to take a risk and leave a robust financial career path to join a startup business that could truly make a difference in people’s lives. It has been an amazing threeplus years working with the team to build a brand that truly stands behind our mission statement to help make people feel better: make you feel better. “OOFOS has also been a key partner in this journey. I know they are there for me each and every day. We have taken our top two selling shoes and have put a breast cancer ribbon on them. For every pair sold on our website, we are donating $10 to Dana Farber Breast Cancer research. How awesome!” Duncan spoke often of her husband Tom and her four sons, Alec, Cavan, Duncan and Will, and the love and support they provided to her. “Thankfully, many people are on this journey with me and have helped make this experience a gift. My kids and my husband have been amazing. We don’t dwell on it; we live each day to the fullest and are grateful for each other. My family and friends have been amazing. They know I do not do well with sympathy attention and instead support me by laughing and living.” n

© 2019 Diversified Communications

running shorts Heartbreak Comes to Chicago

Heartbreak Hill Running Company’s successful run specialty retail concept in Boston (in photo) expanded to Chicago this week.


eartbreak Hill Running Company, the highly regarded Bostonbased running store, is opening a store in Chicago today. The foray into the crowded Chicago market is the first step in its national expansion plans, according to Heartbreak co-founder Dan Fitzgerald. “We believe Boston is the most competitive running market in the country and is proof of concept for us,” Fitzgerald tells Running Insight. Heartbreak Hill Running Co was founded in 2009 by Boston College track and field co-captains Fitzgerald and Justin Burdon. The store has three locations in Boston, including a location in Cambridge that also houses a training studio. Heartbreak Hill has also built a loyal following with its Heartbreakers training program, which includes members from around the world and will be a key part of the store’s national expansion strategy. The Heartbreakers membership allows customers to buy individual classes as well as class packages, so the business has regularly

recurring revenue, similar to a high-end gym or health club. The store also offers free running clubs out of its three Boston locations Heartbreak Hill also has a striking graphic logo it features on a line of private label apparel and accessories, which it sells in its stores and online. The Chicago location is at 2148 N. Halstead in Lincoln Park, less than two miles from Fleet Feet Chicago’s flagship store. The 2000-square-foot location will not initially feature a training studio. Chicago is regarded as one of the most competitive running retail markets in the country, but Fitzgerald says the market is ripe for Heartbreak’s concept. “Competition is not something we fear,” he says. “We see a lot of synergies between Boston and Chicago. Both are energized, urban markets with major marathons and professional sports teams. We look forward to delivering our services to the runners of Chicago.” The new Heartbreak store will be managed by two native Chicagoans with industry experience: Lucas Larson and Jilana Thomas. n

“Competition is not something we fear. We see a lot of synergies between Boston and Chicago. Both are energized, urban markets with major marathons and professional sports teams. We look forward to delivering our services to the runners of Chicago.” DAN FITZGERALD HEARTBREAK HILL RUNNING COMPANY

© 2019 Diversified Communications



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running results

By Brian Metzler



Hoka Debuts Carbon X with World Records Not many running shoes debut with a world record, but that will forever be the legacy of Hoka One One’s new Carbon X shoe. In a uniquely designed private 100K race for eight Hoka athletes (and their pacers) on May 4 in Sacramento, CA, Jim Walmsley broke the longstanding 50-mile world record with a 4:50:07 effort (5:48 per mile). Walmsley crossed the fully automatic timing mats at the 50-mile mark with a big lead before slowing down considerably during the final 12.1 miles to finish fourth overall in the 100K in 7:05:24. For the enroute record to be considered for

Under Armour stars shine in new track spikes While Under Armour is still trying to gain a foothold in the running world, two of its athletes have been running some fast times on the track. Rachel Schneider and Aisha Praught Leer finished

1-2 in the 5000m at the USATF Distance Classic on May 16 at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Schneider, an American athlete who formerly ran for Georgetown, won in 15:06.71, the world’s fastest time up to that point. Praught-Leer, who ran for Illinois State and now runs for Jamaica, finished in 15:07.50, a new Jamaican national record. Both runners wore the Under Armour’s new five-ounce SpeedformMiler 2 Spike and broke the 2020 Olympic qualifying standard. The Speedform Miler 2 Spike utilizes a compression-like upper that offers a locked-down, supportive fit but still flexes with the dynamic movements of a runner’s foot at high speed.

Serafini Wins Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon ratification by the USATF, Walmsley had to continue on to finish the 100K course. The previous 50-mile world best of 4:50:21 was held by South African Bruce Fordyce in 1983. Walmsley, who is training to defend his Western States 100 title in late June, also broke the American record of 4:51:25 set by Minnesota’s Barney Klecker in 1980. The event was created especially for the debut of the Carbon X shoe, a maximally cushioned long-distance racing model built with a curved carbon-fiber plate sandwiched between two layers of midsole foam. The $180 shoe became available on May 15 online and June 1 at running specialty stores across the U.S.

While Tracksmith’s Boston retail store manager Lou Serafini won the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 18, Broadway star Christy Altomare (in photo) stole the show. Serafini, who ran 1:03:14, continues to be a breakout blue-collar star after running a 3:59.33 mile last year and a previous 2:17 marathon. The former Boston College runner qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and will be on the line at the 2020 Trials next February in Atlanta. But it was Altomare who was the headlining act. Not only did the Broadway star (Mamma Mia!, Spring Awakening, Anastasia, Carrie) sing the National Anthem before the race, but she also ran a new PR of 1:54:03 and earned the title of the fastest female celebrity in the race.

© 2019 Diversified Communications


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