Running Insight 7.1.2020

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JULY 1, 2020

A 2020 Celebration of the Spirit of Run Specialty Retail


Celebrating The ‘Best’ In Run Specialty Retail It is finally time for some good news in the run specialty business — and this special Best Running Stores Issue of Running Insight offers plenty of it. After months of dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, run specialty retailers are gradually reopening into a “next normal” that has fundamentally changed the way their customers shop and the way they do business. The response to these challenging times among retailers and their vendors has been nothing short of remarkable and we are proud to be the information resource for such a vibrant and resourceful community. Leading the way in this resurgence are the 2020 Best Running Stores winners, all of whom are profiled in this special issue. These are the retailers in every corner of America that have proven once again that a commitment to their customers and communities, a strong business sense, excellent vendor relationships and dedication to doing it “the right way” will pay off even in the face of an unprecedented business environment. In “normal” times these retailers would have been recognized and honored at a Best Running Stores Christina Henderson Event Director/Publisher

event in May in Georgia, but the pandemic forced the cancellation of that highly anticipated event. Instead, they will be recognized for their achievements during a special celebration at The Running Event in Austin, TX, in December. We have stated our commitment to move forward with The Running Event and we look forward to welcoming these retailers – and the entire run specialty industry – to TRE. As you read these profiles of the 2020 Best Running Stores I am sure you will be impressed by the depth of their commitment to the run specialty business and to the millions of runners – both those who have been running for years and those new to the sport – who walk through their doors every day. It is this dedication that makes our industry very different from most. And while we highlight these 2020 Best Running Stores in this special issue, every day Running Insight continues to celebrate ALL run specialty retailers who continue to do remarkable things in the face of overwhelming challenges. They, too, are what make this business of ours so special and we will continue our mandate to provide every retailer with the resources they need to not only survive, but thrive in a post-pandemic world. We are, indeed, all in this together. So enjoy this special Best Running Stores issue of Running Insight and we will look forward to seeing everyone at The Running Event in December. In the meantime, stay safe. Sincerely, Christina Henderson Event Director, The Running Event Publisher, Running Insight

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2020 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.




Christina Daemon Filson....................................................... Glenn Troy Mark Sullivan.................................................... Michael


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The Best Running Stores Process


pecialty running stores go through a multi-step process before being recognized as one of the 2020 Best Running Stores. 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 them to put into their own words what they think qualifies them as one of the Best Running Stores. There are also questions

about Most Exceptional Activity, Race Involvement, Social Media Efforts and Charity Groups. 3. Our selection committee carefully reads all the evaluation forms and considers all of the nominations. They select 75 stores to be secret shopped and an outside company performs


the shopping and provides scores. The committee then uses the secret shopper score in conjunction with the nominations and evaluation form to select the 2020 Best Running Stores. All of these factors are considered before a store is recognized as one of the 2020 Best Running Stores. n










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Š 2020 Diversified Communications

The 2020 Best Running Stores 1st Place Sports

Fleet Feet Pittsburgh

Potomac River Running

A Runner’s Mind

Fleet Feet Richmond

RC Outfitters

A Snail’s Pace

Fleet Feet Rochester

Red Coyote

Aardvark Sports Shop

Fleet Feet Spokane

Ridgefield Running Company

Big Peach Running Co.

Fleet Feet Springfield

Run For Your Life

Brooklyn Running Co.


Run Hub Northwest

Charlotte Running Company

Game Changers

Run Moore

Charm City Run

Gazelle Sports

Runner’s Edge MT

Columbus Running Company

Get Fit

Running Lab

Dick Pond Athletics

Good Times Running Co.

Running Niche


iRun Texas

Running Zone

Fleet Feet Chicago

Lincoln Running Company

Rush Running Company

Fleet Feet Davenport

Marathon Sports

Salt Lake Running Company

Fleet Feet Fort Wayne

Medved Running & Walking

St. Pete Running Company

Fleet Feet Hartford

Mill City Running

Tortoise & Hare Sports

Fleet Feet Huntsville

Naperville Running Company

Track Shack

Fleet Feet Maine Running

North Wales Running Co.

Up and Running

Fleet Feet Montclair

Palmetto Running Company

Varsity Sports

Fleet Feet Mount Pleasant

Performance Running

Whirlaway Sports Center

Fleet Feet Nashville


Xtra Mile Running


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1ST PLACE SPORTS Jacksonville, FL (four stores: Baymeadows, San Marco, Tapestry Park and Jax Beach) Key Personnel: Doug and Jane Alred, Owners; Ryann Alred Lohman, Brian Doyle, Chris McCaffrey, Stephen Cox, Kelly Parete

History: 1st Place Sports was started in September 1978 with one location and has grown to four stores in the Jacksonville area. In Their Words: 1st Place Sports is a full-service running store. In-store services include our five-step fit process, free monthly Good Form Running Classes, training clinics, weekly training runs and special events in the store such as our Women’s Night. The fact that the store has surpassed four decades and is still relevant and a driving force in the running community means we must have a successful formula. Special Events: 1st Place Sports hosts and organizes around 100 running events each year that support local organizations and charities. It is very involved in the community, producing 12 1st Place Sports running events, including the Thanksgiving Day half-marathon with 4000 participants and the Jacksonville Marathon in December with 2500 participants. 1st Place Sports, in conjunction with the Jacksonville Track Club (JTC Running), produces the Gate River Run, which has been the USATF 15K Championship since 1994. They also work with numerous charities by producing running events for them, which raised over $300,000 in 2019. The Award: It is an honor to be recognized as one of the top running stores in the nation. We feel that we are not just a running store, but an integral part our running community. It is very gratifying to be recognized by our customers and colleagues. Receiving this award is not just something we assume we get each year, this is something we know we worked for while being innovative. Our ability to adapt year over year and our continuance to put customers first is a signal we bring up in each staff meeting. The award brings integrity behind what we do day in and day out and that no one person can achieve such award, it takes the entire team to work together driving forward. Our staff is aware of the challenges but they are confident in their performance to be a part of the best running store. 8

A RUNNER’S MIND Three stores in the Bay Area of California: San Francisco, Burlingame and Los Altos. Key Personnel: Monte Keleher, Owner; Eileen Urtz, General Manager; Derek Wun, Footwear Buyer; Nick Kovaleski, Sustainability Director; Chance Kinney, Store Manager; Shannon Keleher, Apparel Buyer; Sebastian Lizard, ARM Mascot

History: Founded in 2010 in Burlingame, opened in San Francisco in 2013 and in Los Altos in 2017. In Their Words: We believe we are the only run specialty store in North America (OK, probably the world) that has an Asian Water Monitor in the shop as our mascot. Sebastian (named after Sebastian Coe) is 8-years old and has been with us since he was just a mere foot long. He’s now over six feet, as gentle as a puppy and well loved by our community. Since building community is what we pride ourselves on, Sebastian helps draw people in who may not otherwise stop by and helps us spread our motto, Movement is Life, to an even broader range of people. Special Events:: Its favorite event of the year is its annual Gobble Wobble Thanksgiving Day race. Race distances include one mile, 5K, 10K and a Kid’s Dash — something for the whole family. After the races the store hosts a huge pancake breakfast for the 2000 race participants and their families. The entire ARM Team helps that day, flipping pancakes and showing its gratitude to its running community on this national day of thanks. The Award: At ARM we are driven by our passion for helping people move and exercise so they can be their best selves. Running is what draws the ARM team together and providing the absolute best experience for our guests is what feeds our passion. This award validates our hard work over the past year and inspires us to work harder to reach even more of our community in new and different ways.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

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A SNAIL’S PACE RUNNING SHOP Fountain Valley, CA Key Personnel: Eddie Johnson, Joe Lourenco, Tiffany Johnson

History: A Snail’s Pace was opened by Dave Reynolds in 1979 as Loeschhorn’s for Runners. The name was changed to A Snail’s Pace Running Shop when the Loeschhorn’s franchise folded in 1992. Eddie and Dave met on a group run in 1993 and forged a partnership of mentorship and growth to its current five store operation (four running shops, one New Balance store). During this growth phase, Tiffany Johnson came to help manage the back of the house. Joe Lourenco joined as a college student in 2000 and has worked in nearly every position over the years. When Dave Reynolds retired in 2014, Eddie Johnson took over as CEO, In Their Words: One of the unique aspects of our business is the history of collaboration between a mature and experienced leader with a young and hungry partner. First with Dave and Eddie, then with Eddie and Joe. Finding balance there has fostered growth and innovation in the good times, and confidence, stability and resilience in the more challenging times. All those qualities have been key to thriving and surviving in the ever-changing climate of brick-and-mortar retail over the past 27 years. We have an active running club in each location that gathers for a Gala each year. We offer training programs with certified coaches for runners of all abilities to help them reach their running goals. On a completely different note, Tiffany, a fourth degree black belt, offers free self-defense classes for women. Special Events: A Snail’s Pace focuses its efforts in giving back to its community by partnering with charitable organizations and helping to cultivate future runners. They have partnered with Grateful Hearts, South County Outreach and Union Rescue Mission to provide shoes and apparel to those in need. The Award: It means we are doing something right. Our staff is the face of our business and a huge part of our success. We can train and encourage and praise their efforts at every opportunity. But the recognition of excellence from customers who nominate us, the secret shoppers who evaluate us and an outside entity that administers this award, validates their efforts in ways that we, as owners, can not. 10

AARDVARK SPORTS SHOP Bethlehem, PA Key Personnel: Bruce Haines, Owner; Jon Notary, Store Manager/ Footwear Buyer; Sheena Wells, Floor Manager

History: Founded in 1984, the one store (had a second store between 2005-2012, which is now Ready, Set, Run in Stroudsburg, PA) has moved four times in downtown Bethlehem, all locations within two blocks of each other. Founded by Chuck Kovacs in 1984 and current owner Richard Haines has owned it since 1998. In Their Words: I believe we have a unique culture, built on our four core values of Fun, Caring, Knowledgeable and Encouraging. We try hard to make decisions and conduct ourselves using those values as a backdrop, not just in our interactions with each other but also our interactions with customers and our community. Special Events: Like most stores, we sponsor events throughout the year. Favorites are some local events — The St Luke’s 1/2 Marathon, the Women’s 5K Classic and the now defunct Runner’s World 1/2 Marathon and Running Festival. The Award: For me the most important thing is that it helps the staff feel valued and reinforces that what they do matters to our customers and our community.

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BIG PEACH RUNNING COMPANY Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Decatur, Kennesaw, Marietta, Midtown, Suwanee, GA, and On-Wheels. Key Personnel: Mike Cosentino, Chief Running Officer; Jason Toney, Manager–Brookhaven; Steve DeMoss, GM–Marietta; Matt Morlen, GM–Alpharetta; Kate Brun, Manager–Marietta; Wade Coleman, Manager–Alpharetta; Greg McCollough, GM–Brookhaven Suwanee; Tricia Beaty, GM–Midtown; Lucas Stocks, GM–Kennesaw; Fernando Del Valle, GM–Decatur.

History: Opened first store in Brookhaven, GA, on May 24, 2004 and currently has seven brick-and-mortar locations and North America’s only true mobile running store with Big Peach On-Wheels that hit the road last year. In Their Words: We indicate our stores are “The Friendliest Place On The Planet” and we work diligently every day to prove it to our guests, our partners and our communities. Special Events: Big Peach works with 200-plus races and special events per year (well, not likely this year), including Big Peach Sizzler 10K and 5K on Labor Day. It also conducts a training program in the Spring and Fall that attracts 300-500 runners and walkers. It helps all of them get the most out of their mileage and this lifestyle, while readying some for an upcoming local race. The Award: It’s like being given your Super Bowl ring during pre-season workouts. It’s a nice, generous acknowledgement of the past, but there is still so much work to be done to get even better and further validate the accomplishment.


BROOKLYN RUNNING COMPANY Two stores in Brooklyn, NY — Williamsburg location opened in 2013 and Park Slope location opened in 2019. Key Personnel: General Managers Kate Reese and Steve Crnic

History: Brooklyn Running Company is the sister company of Scranton Running Company (Scranton, PA), which was founded in 2010. It is a collection of four stores currently, two in Pennsylvania and two in New York. In Their Words: We are seated between a city/urban environment, but also in the middle of New York City’s incredibly rich running history. Special Events: The Brooklyn Mile is a (virtual in 2020) charity venture that also brings together many of the city’s run crews in a community event. It also produces the Boycott Valentine’s Day, a fun annual event that brings people out in one of the coldest months of the year. The Award: Receiving this honor validates the efforts of our Brooklyn staff. The customer experience drives our being and without an engaged community, we feel without purpose.

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CHARLOTTE RUNNING COMPANY CRC Dilworth, CRC Promenade, CRC Lake Norman, CRC Northlake and CRC Riverwalk. Key Personnel: Owners Scott Dvorak, Donny Forsyth and Jamie Davis; Managers Harry Chandler, Brad Popple, Rich Moran and Dana Pettice.

History: Charlotte Running Company was founded in 2000 by Scott Dvorak. Donny Forsyth joined forces in 2009 and Jamie Davis became part of the Three Amigos in 2015. It now has five locations. In Their Words: CRC has been the “Sole of Charlotte Running” for the past 20 years. What sets us apart are our employees and store culture. Our employees are the lifeblood of CRC and the reason our customers keep coming back. Above all, our mission is to provide an exceptional experience with every customer and find the right pair of shoes for them the first time with our Fit Experience. Special Events: Its New Year’s Day Commitment Run has become a staple in the Charlotte running community the last five years, with 500-plus runners in three locations in three distances, along with massage/chiropractic therapy, wear test shoes from vendors, giveaways and free breakfast, beers and mimosas for all. They typically raise more than $1000 for youth running programs such as Let Me Run and Girls on the Run. Charlotte Running Company also sponsors 70-plus races via gift cards, race swag, race awards, e-newsletter promotion/marketing to a 40K email list, race logos and links on the CRC homepage for races that have packet pick-up at any CRC location. CRC also times/manages/course certifies more than 150 races in and around Charlotte with its sister company Start 2 Finish Charlotte. The Award: Receiving this award reinforces that we are doing things the right way. It also gives us a chance to celebrate all the hard work our staff puts in every day. This is also an award we can celebrate with our customers and our awesome Charlotte running community. They are the reason we come to work every day and we cannot thank our running community enough for all of their support and love they’ve shown us, not just this past year but for the past 20 years. 12

CHARM CITY RUN Seven locations in Maryland — Annapolis, Bel Air, Columbia, Frederick, Timonium and two in Baltimore City. Key Personnel: Josh Levinson, Co-founder and President; Tom Mansfield, Brian Nasuta and Will Murdoch, VPs; Lisa Costello and Kelly Maurer, GMs; Lizzy Peper, Marketing Manager; John Leonardis, Josh Pickett, Ben Pickett, Dawn Litrenta and Christl Wigner, Store Leads

History: Josh and Kara Levinson founded Charm City Run in 2002. After personally experiencing the impact that RunTex had in their community while living in Texas, the pair wanted to bring the same running culture to Baltimore. The first CCR location in Timonium opened in June, Charm City Run Events hosted their first race to honor September 11 and 2200 attended on a Wednesday morning in Baltimore. Its Bel Air location opened in 2005, followed by Annapolis in 2008, a Columbia-area shop in 2011 (which would then move locations in 2016) and its first downtown location in Baltimore 2012. In 2017, by request of the retiring owner, CCR acquired If The Shoe Fits in Frederick. It opened its second Baltimore City location in the same year,. In Their Words: Our team makes us unique. From our part-time staff to our company leaders and from our race volunteers to our coaches, our team always goes above and beyond to provide a welcoming and exceptional experience for our customers, training group runners and race participants. Our team’s attitude has become especially apparent during the pandemic. Our team members drive shoes to customers’ houses every day so they can enjoy their new gear the same day they order. Staff also quickly adapted to leading virtual fittings and essentially becoming shipping facilities to get product out the door from our online stores. Now that we are able to open our shops with limited capacity, our team is working hard to provide safe experiences for each customer. The Award: Being awarded as one of the Best Running Stores in America is confirmation to our staff that we are continuing to have a positive impact on our communities through our in-store service, community events and training groups. As always, it is an honor to be recognized among a list of other run shops that are doing great things in the industry. This award is all about the hard work of our team.

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COLUMBUS RUNNING COMPANY Columbus, Dublin, Pickerington, Powell and Westerville, OH Key Personnel: Owners Matt DeLeon, Eric Fruth and Jim Jurcevich

History: The Columbus Running Company is a five-store operation in central Ohio. Founded in 2004, the CRC has grown to include retail, training programs, run and walk clubs and a race timing division. In Their Words: Over the years the stores have been turned into Oktoberfest beer halls, stinky locker rooms and a gathering place for the community’s amazing runners and walkers. We’ve been fortunate to work with one of the best run specialty staffs in the nation and we’ve been honored once as Store of the Year. The past 16 years have been filled with countless miles and we’re excited for the miles still to come. CRC’s level of community engagement helps us to stand out. We host everything from our own youth running clubs to adult programs for 5Ks, marathons and more. We lead two summertime cross-country camps, host our own charity training program, sponsor an elite team that has sent athletes to four consecutive Olympic Trials and partner with a wide range of local clubs and races. Our outreach team is tirelessly looking for the next group to partner with and support. It’s all about community. Special Events: Favorite events are the Columbus 10K, which it hosts, and the Columbus Marathon, where CRC is the official retail partner. They recently hosted a niche event where runners had to start a mile every 15 minutes from sunrise to sunset. The winners covered 61 miles. The Award: We work really hard. For us, this award is a reflection of that hard work. We love the secret shopper aspect of the judging because it’s such an important reminder that every single customer is the most important customer. It’s our job to wow everyone every single time. 14

DICK POND ATHLETICS Carol Stream, Lisle, St. Charles, Hoffman Estates and Park Ridge, IL Key Personnel: Owner Sheila Pond (retired); General Managers Kirsten Pond and Samantha Pond; Debra Crawford, Carol Stream Manager; Mitch Gilbert, Lisle Manager; Glen Kamps, St. Charles Manager; Melissa Bacik, Hoffman Estates Manager; Chris Wilhite, Park Ridge Manager.

History: Founded in 1969 when Dick Pond started selling track spikes out of the back of his car. Then customers came to his home garage to buy shoes. The first store opened in 1984. Dick passed away in 1991 and his wife Shelia Pond took over the business. Since her retirement in 2010 daughters Kirsten and Samantha Pond have run the family business. At peak they had eight retail locations, but over the years scaled back to five. In Their Words: Our company is unique in that we still concentrate heavily on cross-country and track team business. We carry the full line of spikes and we outfit teams. We have five vans and two UPS-sized shoemobiles that go to team practices and meets. We are (were) also present at over 100 races throughout the year with our shoemobiles. We also do all the other things run specialty store do such as fun runs, walk 2 runs, marathon training, track work-outs, etc. And we have nearly 300 members on our “racing team.” Special Events: Last year Dick Pond won the Balega Ubuntu Award for community service for its work with its special needs running club. It also sponsors more than 100 races. The Award: We strive to give the best customer experience to each and every customer and practice our “mandatory steps to exceptional customer service” every day. Receiving this reward and being acknowledged in the run specialty industry make us very honored to be able to be a part of such an amazing and essential industry.

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FIT NICHE Lakeland, Brandon and Tampa, FL Key Personnel: Rich Wills, Founder/Owner

FLEET FEET CHICAGO Seven stores in Chicago area. Key Personnel: Lisa and Dave Zimmer, Owners

History: FITniche opened its doors 15 years ago. In Their Words: Our mission is to help people get fit, and have fun. Special Events: It sponsors and puts on a number of community races, pub runs and form clinics. The Award: Receiving this honor is just that. It’s a testament to the work our managers, buyers and staff put in every day.

History: Fleet Feet Chicago opened in 1996 in Old Town-Chicago and now has seven stores in the Chicago area. In Their Words: Fleet Feet Chicago attempts to create a fantastic experience for our customers from the time that they are first introduced to us via friends, social media, races or simply by walking into our beautiful stores. Retail theater with amazing customer service. Running Changes Everything. Special Events: Fleet Feet Chicago produces or is involved with hundreds of events each year. Historic Run through the neighborhoods of Chicago, fashion shows, races many social and charity events are being reimagined during these times. The Award: We are detail-oriented and goal-driven at Fleet Feet Chicago. This award validates the hard work all of our staff accomplish every day for our customers and our community. 15

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FLEET FEET DAVENPORT Davenport, IA Key Personnel: Owner/Operator Phil Young

History: Opened in March, 2016. In Their Words: It’s all about people. The kindness of the people we hire, the energy of the people who run with us and the inclusivity and creativity of the leaders in our greater community. When you’re surrounded by great people on all sides, it’s easy to be unique. We get to focus on the way we treat these people when they’re guests in our store, finishers in our races or collaborating business partners in our cities. We aim to treat people well and to do the right thing, trusting that growth and measurable success will follow. Special Events: We’re pretty proud of the Quad Cities Marathon. Previously voted Best Half & Full Marathon in Illinois (sans World Majors), it well represents everything we stand for and work towards as a retailer in one amazing weekend of collaboration and celebration. The director, organizers, committees and volunteers have welcomed us as a key partner and they make the event what it is. The Award: Being voted in as one of the Best Running Stores 2020 means a lot. We don’t campaign for moments like this and we don’t put too much weight on accolades, as we have a vision and a mission that we are firm and confident in. However, to be recognized alongside some impressive peers for doing our craft well enough that our customers pleaded our case for us is gratifying and it functions as a shot in the arm to keep pressing into the next 12 months. It’s a checkpoint, a bit of confirmation that what we’re doing is working. 16

FLEET FEET FORT WAYNE Fort Wayne, IN Key Personnel: Kevin Croy, Owner/President; Jeanice Croy Owner/ CEO; Maggie Croy-Schuck, Director of Operations; Sara Miller, Training Programs Director/Coach

History: Fleet Feet Fort Wayne was founded in August, 2013. Currently one location, with the hope to open a second location in the next couple of years. Jeanice Croy, Kevin Croy and Maggie Croy-Schuck started FFFW with one goal in mind — to build a locally owned running store in Northeast Indiana that provided an inclusive fitness environment. They wanted to develop a store that engaged all Northeast Indiana residents into the sport of running and fitness no matter their level of ability. FFFW developed numerous training programs and events specifically focused on the beginning runner or walker. It has also been making a difference through its community outreach programs, whether a Walkfit program at a business/workplace or a Youth Cross Country program at the YMCA or a Charity Run 5K. In Their Words: Fleet Feet Fort Wayne offers a retail experience complete with professional footwear fitting with the Fit ID 3D Scanner plus an abundance of training programs from walking to fitness classes to 5K training and even marathon training. The store has received numerous awards and recognition for its community efforts, including being selected as Best Running Store four times in the past seven years, YMCA Workplace Wellness Award, recipient of Fleet Feet Fitlanthropy Grant, Fort Wayne Newspapers Readers Choice 1st Place Award for Best Running Shoe Store and Fort 4 Fitness Marathon/Half Marathon Business Volunteer Award. Special Events: For the past seven years it has organized and directed the Vineyard Trail 5K that benefits a disabled veteran charity called “Our Turn to Serve.” In addition, FFFW helps sponsor more than 20 local charity runs and events and works locally and nationally to help and support Girls On The Run, Black Girls Run and Black Men Run. The Award: We are very thankful and humbled to receive this award. We acknowledge that this award would have not been possible without the passion and dedication of our staff and the overwhelming support of the local Fort Wayne community. This award reaffirms that we are maintaining our commitment to our core values in maintaining a superior retail and fitness experience for our customers.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

FLEET FEET HARTFORD Hartford, CT Key Personnel: Owned by the Blozy Sisters, Carrie and Stephanie

History: The store was founded on April 15, 1997, and the Blozy sisters purchased it June 9, 2008. They expanded the store from 1500-square feet to 3600-square feet in 2011. In Their Words: Being owned by two women gives our store a unique personality that tends to be even more nurturing – to staff, customers and the community at large – than other run specialty stores. While we appreciate the technical aspects of shoes and biomechanics, we much more enjoy the opportunities to build community and be day makers. Special Events: FFH has formed a non-profit called Footwear with Care in conjunction with the Hartford Police Department and the CT Podiatric Medical Association that provides footwear (sneakers in the summer and waterproof/steel-toed boots in the winter) and foot care to its homeless neighbors. (During the COVID pandemic it also provided the homeless with tents, sleeping bags and meals.) On average they donate $50,000 worth of footwear each year, using money earned via grants and community donations through store events. They also host a variety of races from a free kids’ race (Little Manchester Road Race) that attracts 1000 young runners, to a 5K on a farm to celebrate Global Running Day and the Dog Gone Fast Mile that invites humans to run with their four-legged friends. Most recently, it hosted a Run Towards Justice to show support for the black community. Nearly 300 people attended and ran a half- mile in silence and in single-file while wearing a face mask that enabled runners to focus on their breath. The Award: It’s always an honor to be named to the Best Running Stores list as it truly is a who’s who of the industry. The award is recognition for our staff’s efforts to provide an exceptional experience. It’s one thing for us to put a plan in place — it’s a whole other thing to not just execute that plan, but elevate it. 18

FLEET FEET HUNTSVILLE Huntsville, AL Key Personnel: Dink and Suzanne Taylor, Owners; Alan Taylor, Inventory Manager; Kathy Youngren, Training Director; Dianna Cioppi, Triathlon Training Director; Barbara Parker, Apparel Buyer; Kevin Stegen, Footwear Buyer; Donna Ruiz, Essentials Buyer; Tripp Maloy, Floor Manager; Jamie Morrow, Floor Manager. Fit Specialists: Jason Barnes, Jack Campbell, Justin Dummer, Laurie Gaddy, May Gillespie, Traci Gillespie, Seth Graham, Tristan Hamer, Ethan Hensley, Ovella Jessee, Maria Jones, Bryson Jordan, Javier Nishikawa, Corey O’Melia, Lauren Stegen, Skylor Taylor, Lonnie Vogan, Chris Welch, Mike Willoughby

History: Fleet Feet Huntsville was founded in 2004 by Dink and Suzanne Taylor. They currently have one store in Huntsville, AL; they were in the process of opening a location in Madison, AL, when COVID-19 happened. That has been postponed for a couple of months. In Their Words: There are a lot of things that make us unique. We have four family members that work full time in the store. We are all dedicated to the store and our community. We sponsor more than 150 events a year and donate more than $150,000 each year to our community. We believe in running, community and family. Special Events: Under normal circumstances, FFH would be at events on both Saturday and Sunday in Huntsville. They personally race direct seven events, which include 5Ks, half marathons, trail races and a 50K. The Award: This award is very important to us. We love that the team’s efforts are recognized by our community. There is nothing in the world we would rather do.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

FLEET FEET MAINE RUNNING Portland and Brunswick, ME Key Personnel: Brian Whiton, General Manager, Operations; Erin Flatley, Director Communications; Todd Reutlinger, Shipping/Receiving/Digital

FLEET FEET MONTCLAIR Montclair, NJ Key Personnel: Owners John and Dawn Fabbro along with a dedicated staff of 12 that includes their three daughters.

History: Founded in 2005 as Maine Running Company in Portland, ME. Converted to Fleet Feet Maine Running in 2013, with two locations in Portland and Brunswick, ME. In Their Words: Fleet Feet Maine Running is the only running specialty store in Maine. We are intimately involved in our running community, raising money for Maine Cancer Foundation, Portland Trails, Girls On The Run and The Weekly Back Cove Series. Our staff is highly engaged with customers and we have four employees with 10-plus years in our company. Our Core Values have always driven our business, community relations and customer service: Put People First, Inclusivity, Approachability, Community and Do The Right Thing. Special Events: The Weekly Back Cove Series is a Summer 5K Series every Wednesday night that raises $15,000 for Portland Trails. It hosts several Training Groups – Run Club, Winter Warriors, Maine Marathon, Beach To Beacon, No Boundaries 5K Training – and sponsors Girls On The Run and the Southern Maine XC Classic. The Award: The Best Running Stores In America award validates our objective of excellence within our running community — striving for community engagement, customer engagement and to make a difference in people’s lives.

History: Founded in 1987 In Their Words: Being in business for nearly 33 years speaks volumes and sets us apart. But it’s not enough. Resting on past accomplishments doesn’t improve who we are today. Believing that it is a privilege to serve our community drives us to give our customers and our staff the best experience ever at Fleet Feet Montclair. We passionately believe that we are doing so much more than selling products. We are leading people toward healthier, more active lifestyles. Each interaction with a customer is an opportunity to make a real difference in a person’s life, as well as in our own. Our town and state of New Jersey were savaged by COVID-19, so when we announced our Running Is Not Cancelled Virtual 5K through marathon race, we weren’t sure if people would even want to or feel comfortable participating. The timing and spirit of the event created a great feeling of joy and camaraderie when we were all feeling isolated and uncertain. We had 270 people from all over New Jersey, New York City, Chicago, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Colorado, Great Britain, Germany, Canada and even Australia participate in the weekend’s virtual race. It proved to us that the need to connect and let the world know that we are here for each other is strong. The Award: It is always great to be recognized and it is a privilege to be associated with inspiring specialty running retailers. We know how hard it is to continually improve. Every year has unique challenges to overcome. This year, especially, we are humbled to be among leaders who are working through the toughest year we have experienced in 33 years.


© 2020 Diversified Communications

FLEET FEET MT. PLEASANT Mount Pleasant and Summerville, SC Key Personnel: Chris and Amy Minkel, Co-Owners; Wade Wiley, GM; Sarah Harriman, Assistant Manager/Ambassador of Fun; Eryn Groh, Assistant Manager. History: Founded in March, 2013 when Chris and Amy Minkel took a “leap of faith” and moved their family to Mt Pleasant, SC, to follow their dream of opening their own running store. The Mt. Pleasant store grew quickly over the first two years and it was evident at that point that a second location in Summerville was the next step. Fleet Feet Summerville opened its doors in July, 2015. In Their Words: Being a place where everyone feels welcome, comfortable and inspired has always been the mission of our team. We do our very best to create an environment where people of all ages, races and fitness levels want to come for advice, support and the camaraderie of being with like-minded individuals. Special Events: In addition to hosting weekly group runs, bimonthly Pub Runs and training programs, FFMP puts on several 5K races as fundraisers for local non-profits. The Cocoa Cup 5K, held in December, is its most popular event of the year. Being so close to Christmas runners and spectators are encouraged to dress in their holiday best, participate in the costume contest, take pictures and share their wish list with Santa. The race has sold out all six years it’s been held. The race was originally started as a marketing tool by a local developer to showcase their new neighborhood and when FFMP took over complete ownership of the race four years ago they turned it in to an opportunity to give back to the local community. In four years it has donated more than $90,000 to two local organizations the Low Country Food Bank and East Cooper Community Outreach. The Award: We are very grateful, proud and excited to be recognized as one of the top running stores in the country. Our team works very hard every day to provide the best experience possible inside the four walls of our stores as well as out in the community. We are very honored and humbled to be named among so many amazing stores and will continue to strive to maintain all the qualities that brought us to this point. 20

FLEET FEET NASHVILLE Three locations — Hendersonville, Green Hills, Brentwood, TN Key Personnel: Christi Beth Adams, Owner and Operator

History: First store (Brentwood) opened in February, 2002. In Their Words: I’m not sure we do anything particularly unique in Nashville. I think most running stores act as a community center of sorts — educating people on ways to live happy and healthy through fitness, inspiring people to take on challenges that stretch you physically and personally. We just happen to do that in Nashville. Bessie - that’s the name of our truck – transfers inventory across our three stores twice each week but her favorite job is to spread love across Nashville by donating shoes to deserving people and agencies like Room in the Inn and The Nashville Rescue Mission. Special Events: Summer Trail Mixer is a free sum mer ser ies t hat invites newcomers onto local trails in a safe, fun and welcoming environment. The Award: I believe there are lots of great run shops across the country – plenty that aren’t even on this list – so it doesn’t change what I do, but it does validate our employees and the hard work they put in each day.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

FLEET FEET PITTSBURGH Pittsburgh, PA Key Personnel: Bob Shooer, Owner; Deb Doyle, Co-owner; Emily Sagun, Marketing Manager

History: The store opened in October 2001, and Bob Shooer purchased the store on September 1, 2007, and it remains one location in the south suburbs of Pittsburgh. The store has expanded with an expansion and renovation that was completed in May, 2014. In Their Words: We live authentically through our actions. Not only do we educate people on what to do, but we do it with them. Whether it’s gutting it out on the course alongside our customers or waiting for them at the finish line, our presence can be seen and felt at dozens of local races. We sponsor, promote and attend iconic events such as the Pittsburgh Marathon, Great Race, GAP Relay, EQT 10-Miler, the Mario Lemieux 6.6K and the Fleet Feet Liberty Mile, along with many other local events. Runner’s Night at PNC Park sponsored by Fleet Feet Pittsburgh has become one of the city’s most popular sponsored baseball games. Special Events: Fleet Feet Pittsburgh’s Holiday Lights Run & Charity Raffle is a regionally recognized yearly fundraiser held in December. The event raises thousands of dollars for local causes such as Hope Through Sports, the Tree of Life’s Victims of Terror Fund and the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund. In December 2018, we raised more than $22,000 in one evening for the Victims of Terror at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The Award: We learned that we had received this prestigious award on the day that we reopened after having been closed for more than nine weeks due to COVID-19. What a morale boost that was for our entire team! Our success as a store is rooted in our team, our culture and our belief that running changes everything. We have established ourselves as industry leaders by creating an environment focused on diversity, inclusivity and sustainability. Relentless in our pursuit of excellence, we empower our runners with the resources they need on their journey towards improved quality of life and reaching their personal goals. This award is so meaningful to us because it validates that our industry has the same priorities. 22

FLEET FEET RICHMOND Short Pump and Westhampton, VA Key Personnel: Ashley Wells, Jason Wells and Jeff Wells, Owners; Harrison Toney, General Manager; Max Schneider, Marketing Manager; Beth Glover, Retail Experience Manager

History: Ashley, Jason and Jeff Wells brought their many years of combined experience to Richmond in 2014, opening Fleet Feet in the Westhampton neighborhood. A year later, they opened a second location, expanding to the Short Pump area to be able to serve a wider audience of runners and walkers. Over the past six years, Fleet Feet Richmond has fit thousands of runners, collected countless shoes for the less fortunate in Richmond, attended dozens of Sports Backers training team workouts, and hosted fun runs every Tuesday night. In Their Words: Our customers make our stores great. We serve a broad range of needs, from people who are looking for comfort on their feet to elite runners. We learn so much from this range of fitting experiences that we are continually growing and able to help more people. Additionally, our staff consistently provides a high-quality and unique shopping experience that keeps our customers coming back. Their product knowledge and need-specific know-how make them the best in the business. Special Events: Fleet Feet Richmond sponsors the Monument Avenue 10K and Richmond Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K. The Award: We are so proud and humbled to receive this award for the third year in a row. We strive every day to work in service of the community around us. This award shows us that we are making a difference and living by Fleet Feet’s nine core values.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

FLEET FEET ROCHESTER Armory, Ridgeway and Victor, NY, plus Fleet Feet Buffalo. Key Personnel: Boots and Ellen, Owners; Barb Boutillier, GM; Sean Hendrick, Marketing Director; Kelly Lanzafame, Inventory Manager

History: Opened first store in Brighton, NY, in July, 2004, second in Greece, NY, in November, 2011, Moved first store to new location (Armory) February, 2014. Bought Fleet Feet Buffalo in November, 2014. Opened fourth store in Victor in September, 2019. In Their Words: The way we integrate retail with training with our races makes us unique. We look at it as a triangle and each corner relying on the others to serve customers in a variety of ways. They are all very integrated. Special Events: They produce more than 50 events a year and provide services to another 25 or so. Its major events include the Flower City Challenge, Rochester Marathon and Webster Turkey Trot. The Award: Our staff always wants to excel and provide the best in service and experience. This award validates their efforts in working with customers each and every day.


FLEET FEET SPOKANE Three locations Spokane, WA Key Personnel: Wade and Julie Pannell, Owners

History: Its first store was opened in 2012 and the second in Spokane Valley in 2014. In 2018 they relocated the Spokane location to the Kendall Yards neighborhood and in August, 2019 opened a third location in north Spokane. In Their Words: Our Kendall yards location is a new hip spot with a coffee shop in the store — combining the culture of running and coffee, two of our favorite things. These two aspects create a great spot for the community to connect. Our mission is to inspire the athlete in everyone. Whether it’s a seasoned runner training for their next race, a newbie striving to get in shape or someone just needing comfortable footwear to enjoy activity, we aim to help each customer find the perfect fit. Spokane has a rich history in running and today many of the high school cross-country programs make regular appearances at Nationals and in 2008 North Central High School claimed the title. Special Events: FFS sponsors many local races, but a favorite for owner Julie Pannell is the Elementary XC program – Active4Youth. She attends 16 meets in the fall around the city, handing out water to more than 3500 kids. Another unique program that Fleet Feet Spokane hosts is their Winter Warriors group, a social run club with over 300 participants. Runners get points for attendance, cold temperatures and snow/rain. Whoever has the most points at the end of the 12-week season is crowned the Winter Warrior. The Award: We are grateful to receive this award again and be counted among the top stores in the country. We constantly train staff to strive for excellence and provide exceptional service to every customer. This is a well-deserved award for the hard work and dedication of our entire team.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

FLEET FEET SPRINGFIELD Springfield, MO Key Personnel: Eric Johnson, Owner

FOOT ZONE Bend, OR Key Personnel: Brian Lord, Owner

History: Founded July, 2008 as The Starting Block, an independent run specialty store managed by Eric Johnson but owned by some friends. The name was changed to Ultramax Sports in 2012 with same ownership and management. Johnson purchased the store in August, 2016 and converted it to a Fleet Feet franchise. In Their Words: We may never be the best running store in the world, but it is absolutely our goal is to be the best at getting better. We visit on average 10-12 specialty stores (and numerous non-specialty stores) every year to discover new brands, gather best practices for everything from merchandising to fit processes and sit down and learn from other owners. Run specialty is special because stores are constantly taking it to the next level. Special Events: FFS hosts the Karhu Andy’s Demo run every year, where 100 locals run 1.5 miles to the Andy’s Frozen Custard (the best custard in the country), are treated to a custard treat and then run – sometimes walk – back. Always a huge hit thanks to its vendor partner Karhu. They also host a Santa Run 5K every December with 400-plus runners. Entry fee includes a free Santa Suit. Also host two community track meets every summer that are open to anyone age eight and up, in partnership with a local high school and the local running club Ozark Mountain Ridge Runners. The Award: It validates not only all of the hard work our staff does day in and day out, but how much they care about our customers. No business cares about their customers like locally owned business.

History: Teague Hatfield bought FootZone from its previous owner as an aspiring 20-something, 25 years ago. Teague and the shop were instrumental in bringing a focus on trail running to Bend, contributing to the city’s image as an outdoors mecca and earned his title as the Unofficial Mayor of Bend. This spring Teague passed the baton to new owners, Brian Lord and family, recently relocated from St. Louis. Brian’s history in independent running retail served him well when FootZone was forced to close its doors due to COVID-19 — within two weeks Brian and staff had launched an e-commerce platform and were on their way to remodeling the store. In Their Words: FootZone is deeply rooted in our community, in the heart of downtown Bend. We are the go-to store in Central Oregon for runners, walkers and hikers. Many of our staff have been at the store for five years or more and love to share their shoe, local trail and running/walking expertise. We have what we believe is the largest trail shoe selection in the Pacific Northwest and our retail selection is curated by our passionate staff. We host tons of free group runs, clinics, and talks, as well as training groups from 5K to marathon. Special Events: Its Dirty Half Marathon was the first trail race in Bend 19 years ago and it raises funds for local non-profit Deschutes Land Trust. Also founded the Thanksgiving Day I Like Pie Run/Walk, which includes a pie contest, raises funds for a local foodbank and Girls on the Run and rewards registrants with a slice of pie at the conclusion of their race. Two of its staff members own the Bend Marathon. The Award: In these hectic times, the announcement of FootZone as a Best Store was great news. We’re grateful to our community for recognizing the value of what we do and we’re excited to get even better.


© 2020 Diversified Communications

REDESIGNED RUN Sometimes you just need to adapt and change your pace. Entering Spring/Summer 2021, we’re bringing in an entirely new Run category. The top-to-bottom redesign is a new look, but under the laces, these socks have been reconstructed to meet the demands of the next leg. We have yet to produce our best sock, but in collections like these, we know we PR’d nonetheless. LEARN MORE AT RUNNING INSIGHT MARKET WEEK A



A FOOTBED AND TOE Targeted Ultra-Lightweight cushioning in footbed and toe for impact protection. B HEEL AND ACHILLES Reinforced Ultra-Lightweight cushioning for comfort and durability. C PERFORMANCE UPPER Multi-zoned mesh for ventilation and comfort. D ARCH Supportive performance fit in arch reduces fatigue. E WICKED FAST Like a bunny.



GAME CHANGERS RUNNING COMPANY Richmond Hill, Savannah, GA Key Personnel: Sandra Elliott, Founder and CEO; Ron Elliott, Co-Owner and CFO; Zach Fitzgearld, COO; Paul Brenneman, GM; Josh Elliott, Store Manager

History: Georgia Game Changers opened its first store in 2012 and opened a second store in downtown Savannah in January, 2018. It built a Health and Fitness Complex in 2016, part of which is its new 6000-square-foot running store. In Their Words: We are a physical therapist-owned running store with a podiatrist on staff. What began as a small dream – to bring a collection of unique footwear with the single-minded mission of changing the game and opening a store with an educational and service mindset – has now grown into an entire complex of health-related businesses that impacts the fitness of our community each and every day. What began as a 1300-square-foot running store grew into a bike and multi-sport store, a large personal training studio, a dance studio and a PT Clinic—all on one property, (with more to come). Special Events: Its Tour de Ford 10-Miler raised more than $10,000 last year for Richmond Hill High School Band. This race once again showcased the value of community effort. For the past three years, the race was even more special because the band members and their dance team were strategically located at six different locations on the course to play for the runners, including the finish line at the mansion. The Award: We recognize that there are many incredible run specialty stores and we believe that Game Changers Running Company is among the best because of our emphasis on creating a community of comeback-minded individuals who get to realize dreams come true on many levels. The degree to which education is an integral part of the fit process is important and our commitment to customer service, in terms of in-store or property events, but also in terms of community events that directly encourage engagement in physical activities is also vital. What makes us one of the best is we have not forgotten our roots. We are family founded, owned and operated, and that is how we treat our employees, customers and the running community as a whole. 26

GAZELLE SPORTS Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Holland, Northville and Birmingham, MI Key Personnel: Partner Team: Chris Lampen-Crowell, Ken Sung, Jean Sequite; Executive Team: Jen Brummitt, Angie Conflitti, Cara Zerbel, Kyle Klooster, Thomas Kessel, John Korreck; Store Managers: Alyssa Davison, Kelly McLeod, Joe Trupp, Rob Veldman, Aleksandra Schab

History: Founded in downtown Kalamazoo in 1985 and grown to five Gazelle Sports Stores across the Mitten State. They also operate a Lole store, a New Balance store and have a Team division that services high schools, colleges and club sports teams. In Their Words: We believe movement can change your life and with that as our north star it continues to inspire us to deliver excellence in everything that we do. Whether that’s through providing shoes to Girls on the Run, creating exceptional event experiences and training programs or having expert staff on the floor, we are the home for runners, walkers and movers across Michigan to find authentic advice, genuine care and a community of support. Special Events: Gazelle Sports signature events focus on providing a unique experience and raising funds for local charity partners and the Gazelle Sports Foundation. Among the most unique is the Whoville 5K, a family fun run full of holiday cheer, custom Grinch-themed event swag and treats and a whole cast of Whocharacters. Typically held in both Grand Rapids and Northville, this year’s event will be the “zaniest, Grinchiest, holiday cheeriest virtual 5K in Michigan.” The Award: Being named one of America’s Best Running Stores is definitely a shining light for our team. Along with many of our peers, 2020 has been a challenging year. Through this challenging time our teams came together and truly lived out our core values (care, learning, excellence, community, active living) and our commitment to World’s Best Customer Experience. We’ve worked really hard to be a stronger team, and business, and it is an honor to be recognized for this award.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

GET FIT Amarillo, TX


History: Get Fit first opened on June 16, 2009 in a 1500-squarefoot location and in July, 2014 expanded and relocated into a new building, more than tripling its square footage. In Their Words: The key to Get Fit’s success is our knowledgeable and dedicated staff. Our ages range from 17 to 65 and though we have different life experiences and backgrounds, we form a cohesive team whose purpose is educating and equipping our customers on their health journey through sharing our love of running and fitness. We pride ourselves on creating a welcoming, quaint and non-judgmental environment where customers are treated with respect for who they are and the goals that they have. Our team takes time to get to know the customer on a personal level and helps guide them in their decision-making process in order to help them achieve their fitness vision. By offering this experience we feel like we are changing and saving lives. Our mission is Encouraging and Strengthening our Community Through Activity. I believe that we do this daily. We strive to educate the community and promote a passion for fitness and running. Special Events: They put on The Cold as Ice 5K/10K and the Hot Blooded 5K/10K races (namesakes from Foreigner songs) and a Half Marathon each year to benefit The Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center, with proceeds, to date, totaling close to $80,000. Get Fit’s Top 25 customers have received a personalized gift, a signed photograph of the staff and a $25 gift card each year in February. Get Fit also puts on a Fashion Show each spring using customer models. Each model gets to keep their outfits with all proceeds from the ticket sales going to a different local charity. The Award: It is humbling to receive this honor because it highlights the Best of the Best in our industry. It means that as a team we are bringing our “A” game every day and our customers are our top priority. One of my team members said “I take my job seriously and am proud to say I work at Get Fit. I want to continue the legacy that you have built over the years.” This is a true team effort.

History: GTRC’s single brick-and-mortar location opened its doors in October, 2017 and has grown to eight employees. In Their Words: Through and through, GTRC aims to support athletes of all levels of experience. We understand the hallmarks of running, so we may be a source of knowledge for those new to the sport or striving to take their talents to a new level. We take the time to offer a personalized experience, with which no online store can compete. Special Events: In addition to a weekly social run, GTRC hosts a monthly community run and pancake social and is an annual sponsor of the Healthy Kids Run Series, as well as local nonprofit events such as Graeme’s Run, A Step Forward for Hispanic Women, Back to School 5K, Big Little JC 5K and Run4theChildren, to name a few. The Award: Recognition as a Best Running Store for the second year into our third of year of business etches our endurance in the running industry and says we are here to stay. We appreciate the vendor partners who truly and unapologetically support independent and local running stores. Our hope is this recognition continues to hold the door open for the best running products in the industry, so we can spread the love of “all things running” within our local community.


© 2020 Diversified Communications

I RUN TEXAS Three locations on the north side of San Antonio, TX

History: iRun Texas has been in San Antonio for more than 10 years. It opened its doors as a RunOn! San Antonio location and it soon changed its name and then opened another door three years later. Its newest store recently celebrated a five-year anniversary. In Their Words: In the last four years, more than five local running specialty stores have closed their doors in San Antonio, but iRun continues to grow and expand our customer base. Each year we gain new ground in our community involvement and our brand awareness. To flourish in the way iRun has, we have gained the trust of our community. Our staff is well aware we need to offer our customers something they can’t get online. We work hard to never bring in an item we wouldn’t want to use ourselves. Above all, everyone is welcome at iRun. Whether you’re in week one of your first couch-to-5K or you’re training for your 50th marathon, there’s a person to connect to and a story to be told when you come in and talk to our staff. Special Events: iRun has a timing company (Split Second Productions) and it puts on five Texas-specific races, along with the other races it times for organizations in the community. The Award: Receiving this award is not just a reflection of our company, of our staff, of the items we carry and the shoes we sell. This award is a reflection of the community we are a part of and how we are able to foster the growth of the running community. We have many people who join our training classes and graduate from our beginner License to Run class and go on to complete our License for Distance class, to set their sights on a full marathon. These runners highlight the reason we love what we do at iRun, as we get to see them progress on their journey. These runners often go out and become ambassadors for the sport, volunteers at races and a positive example of what impact running can make on a person. This award is simply a reflection of the great community we are a part of. 28

LINCOLN RUNNING COMPANY One Location in downtown Lincoln, NE Key Personnel: Chris Rogers, Owner; Ann Ringlein, Manager; Robb Finegan, Salesperson Extraordinaire

History: The Lincoln Running Co was founded in 1975 in the same location and by the same family that still owns the store. It is now a third-generation business. In Their Words: We do what we feel is right for our community — that being not only Lincoln, but specifically downtown Lincoln. We know that we are stronger together and have really tried to bring all of Downtown together. Our community is amazing and we really try to support everything and everyone here. We run three days a week with the guys at The Bridge – an addiction/ behavioral center near Downtown and one day a week with St. Monicas, a women’s treatment center. We supply shoes and get donations of running apparel for them. When the pandemic hit we were able to keep our employees on the payroll, but even in Nebraska we felt the impact. I took the time to deliver all the mail orders by bike! I have delivered over 150 shoes, insoles and apparel since March — throwing in a tub of cookie dough from the local Downtown Cookie Co on Mondays. In the end, we just really want to make people feel good. We are trying one shoe at a time to change the world. Special Events: They sponsor three races a year and help the local Lincoln Track Club with all of their events. Its last event of the year is the Holiday Run, which raises money for the Capital Humane Society — 400 runners and 200 dogs run this race annually and raise around $4000. Last March, Nebraska was hit by a devastating flood and in three days they worked with the Lincoln Track Club and a local bank and organized a run that raised $160,000 for Rebuild the Heartland . The Award: This award is very, very special and we do not take it for granted — we feel we work very hard to live up to the standards the Best Running Stores in America set and expect. In the end we run this store with the thought of doing things the right way. That is how we feel we should run our store — we do this because it is the right way to do it.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

MARATHON SPORTS Boston, Wellesley, Cambridge, Melrose, Norwell, Mansfield, Shrewsbury, Brookline, Northampton, Plymouth, Yarmouth, MA Key Personnel: Colin Peddie, President; Adam Vess, Wellesley Store Manager (Wellesley store was secret shopped)

History: Founded in 1975 near Harvard Square, Marathon Sports has grown to 11 locations across the Bay State. In 1992 Colin Peddie took over the reins of the one-store operation, offering the concept of bio-mechanical analysis. They opened the Wellesley store in 1994 and since then have opened nine more, covering the Boston metro area, north and south shores and central and western Massachusetts. In 2013 Marathon Sports added the sound RUNNER brand in Connecticut and now operates four locations — Branford, Fairfield, Glastonbury and Old Saybrook – founded by Julie Francis in 2001 and managed by her son Preston Ranton until 2020 under the Marathon Sports umbrella. Two years later, the chain added Runner’s Alley’s three stores – Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth, NH – and the stores remain locally operated under founder and GM Jeanine Sylvester. In Their Words: We help spread the sport of running at the scholastic age. We partner with the Massachusetts State Track and Coaches Association, the organization who puts on most of the XC meets and track meets in Massachusetts. We have created a platform where athletes and parents can watch meets for free and formed Our live streams of top meets can get upwards of 16,000 views. Special Events: The annual Ras na h’Eireann, a 5K St. Patrick’s Day race in Davis Square, an area that has a very high concentration of Irish bars. The race draws thousands of runners in green, ready to run hard and party harder. Through a partnership with Harpoon Brewery, there is beer and live music at 15 bars in Davis Square. The Award: It takes a lot of work to extend our sphere of influence out into the community. Seeing a national organization with authority within the running specialty world naming us one of the Best Running Stores in America gives the leadership team, staff and our customers a sense of pride that they are working and shopping with one of the best in the country. 29

MEDVED RUNNING & WALKING OUTFITTERS Rochester, NY Key Personnel: Mort Nace, Dan Buccholtz, Dave Farrands, Maggie Baackes, Dan Medved (Owner)

History: Founded in 1984, one 6000-square-foot location catering to Rochester’s running, walking and outdoor fitness community. Still family-owned and operated and the store supports its community through involvement in races and other local events. In Their Words: 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. Besides a great selection of running footwear, apparel and accessories, we offer an outdoor lifestyle component and strong trail running assortment. We also embrace the cold and snow by promoting the sport of snowshoe running in the winter. Ultimately what makes us unique is a fantastic team that loves helping people. We have full-time team members and part-time team members who have been with us well over 15 years. That continuity is very much appreciated by our customers. Special Events: Lilac Race held in connection with the local Lilac Festival, this 10K and 5K is one of the oldest and most popular races in the community; Medved Madness, a trail race held in May that offers a post-race feast and beer tasting; Medved 5K to Cure ALS, held on Father’s Day at the local minor league baseball stadium; The Feast, held on Thanksgiving Day with a two- and five-mile option; Training Programs focusing on 5K/10K to half and full marathons, along with a trail running training program and a winter training program. The Award: Receiving this award means a great deal to our team. We especially take pride in our mystery shopping performance. We try very hard to give every customer a 5 Star Experience. To be included as among the best is humbling and goal we would like to achieve every day.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

MILL CITY RUNNING Minneapolis MN Key Personnel: Bekah and Jeff Metzdorff, Owners

History: Founded in 2013, MCR is a single-door operation in Minneapolis. In Their Words: We’re proud to be a progressive store, helping push the industry forward, while still placing the highest emphasis on service. Special Events: The Mill City Running Race Team is a 600-person all-abilities run group that participates in races around the state and country. The Race Team spends time running, working out, volunteering and celebrating together throughout the year. The Award: It’s an honor anytime you’re listed among these stores. We’ve taken inspiration from nearly everyone on this list at some point. It’s a feather in the cap of our incredible staff and it is truly a reflection of the great work they do on a daily basis.


NAPERVILLE RUNNING COMPANY Naperville Running Company – South, Naperville Running Company – Wheaton, The Annex by Naperville Running Company Key Personnel: Kris Hartner, Owner; Nick and Marisa Hird, Kyle Brady, Executive Team Members

History: Founded in 2000, second location in 2014 (south), third in 2017 (Wheaton), fourth in 2019 (Annex) In Their Words: It’s what makes this industry so unique and so special — our staff and our customer experience. But right now, it’s so much more than that. As I’m typing this right now, Kris Hartner is unboarding our windows, boards painted with a George Floyd mural and decorated with paper hearts and artwork. We’re doing all of this and trying to operate during COVID. Just when you think life is crazy (like living through a pandemic), we had to worry about looters destroying our store while peaceful protests walk our streets. We’ve all had to change the way we do business due to COVID. For us, it was relearning what we’ve done for 20 years (as our 20th anniversary crept up on us in May). So what makes us unique is our ability to adapt. As a business, as employees, as humans — and our customers have had to do the same. By taking a very over-cautious approach to reopening after COVID lockdown, we knew we would get some pushback. People are frustrated at the restrictions forced upon them and we knew someone would take it out on us. Sure that’s happened a few times, but the tremendous amount of support we’ve received has been unmatched. Special Events: They sponsor the Naperville Women’s Half Marathon and 10K, the St. Paddy’s Day 5K, Naperville Turkey Trot and a Twilight Cross Country meet. Outside of the store, NRC made a $100,000 cash donation to North Central College to set up a permanent endowment for students in their Social Entrepreneurship Program and a $14,000 cash donation to a local high school to fully fund a timing system for their youth. The Award: Being voted as a Top Store by our customers and friends is one of the biggest compliments we could ever receive. Saying “thank you” isn’t enough. Our doors were locked for two months — the support and love we received from our customers, friends and community helped us push through the anxiety and constant uncertainty.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

NORTH WALES RUNNING COMPANY North Wales, PA (North Wales Running Company), Phoenixville, PA (All Kinds of Fast) Key Personnel: Scott Tantino, Owner/Manager; Gayland Aston, Store Manager, All Kinds of Fast.

History: Scott Tantino opened North Wales Running Company in April, 2006 in his hometown of North Wales, PA. Seven years later, opened All Kinds of Fast in Phoenixville, PA. In Their Words: Our employees are our best resource. We encourage and make it our priority to treat each customer like family. Our employees are passionate, friendly and genuinely care about helping people get back on the right foot or, in this case, into the right shoe. We’ve built partnerships with customers who have become personal trainers and opened their own facilities (Danielle Bridge of Bridge the Gap Workouts is a huge supporter of what we do and the same goes for how we feel about her). We offer Lunch & Learn workshops where we teach about the importance of proper footwear. We donate shoes and sponsor the Girls on the Run program. We teach running classes geared towards all levels. Our motto is “All Kinds of Fast” and we truly believe in helping all people no matter their situation. Special Events: The stores have long been a supporter of the North Penn IronKnights kids’ triathlon, which serves 1500 youth with a scholarship program. It hosts two nights where students who would not normally be able to participate in this event receive shoes, bikes, helmets and entry into the race for free. The Award: This award means a lot to our entire staff. The last three years have been tough on our staff — we had a long time employee who passed away suddenly, our owner had severe Lyme Disease that went undiagnosed, our North Wales manager went on an extended maternity leave and our All Kinds of Fast manager was out for eight weeks from a cycling accident. However, through all of the ups and downs our staff rose to the challenge and worked as a team to get through it. Without our staff, we wouldn’t have been recognized as one of the Best Running Stores. This award means so much because it is a reflection our All Kinds of Fast family. 32

PALMETTO RUNNING COMPANY Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, SC Key Personnel: Christian and Rob Fyfe, Co-owners; Bret Freed and Melissa Matus, Store Managers

History: 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 opened Palmetto Running Company in Bluffton in 2011. A year later, Christian Fyfe (Rob’s son) joined him in ownership of the business and helped grow the company and brand to where it is today, including opening a second store location on Hilton Head Island in 2014. In Their Words: Locally owned and family operated since 2011, we not only pride ourselves on our customer service but also on the products we sell. This year we are really proud to be able to vocalize our mission to our customers through our Eco Initiative, which includes the multiple ways we strive to not only give back to our community and customers, and also to our planet. Special Events: Due to the pandemic PRC had to postpone its week’s worth of events that revolved around the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, but they are already planning next year’s event. The Award: Receiving this Award means the world to us. At the end of the day everything we do is for our customers and for them to be the ones who voted for us just means so much. We are so grateful to be a part of this community and to be able to give back to it.

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PERFORMANCE RUNNING OUTFITTERS Five Stores: Brookfield, Delafield, Oak Creek, Milwaukee, Shorewood, WI Key Personnel: Owners, Trae Hoepner and Jessica Hoepner; Marketing Director, Susie Lorenz; Brookfield Manager, Claire Bush; Delafield Manager, Leah Ruesink; Oak Creek Manager, Alison Newcomb; Milwaukee Manager, Kristi Kontny; Shorewood Manager, Susie Becker; Buyer, Mandy Lotte; Sales Training Manager, Jack Hackett; Events Coordinator, Katherine Dannecker-Stevens

History: Performance Running Outfitters opened in July, 2006 with a mission to provide a customer experience that wasn’t yet offered in the Milwaukee community. From 2006-2018 it expanded to four locations and in 2019 it purchased another store that had four locations. Because some were in the same area, it reduced it to two additional stores and had six locations before COVID-19. During the shutdown it closed one location. In Their Words: Our motto is “Happy Soles. Crushed Goals.” We want to make a positive impact on anyone that walks in our door. They should leave feeling happier than when they come in and when they lace up their shoes we hope it brings a smile to their face. Special Events: They organize several runs every month with various themes and challenges. The most popular is a run every Monday night at the Lakefront Brewery where they partner with brands to have demo shoes and raffles. After the run the brewery offers half priced cheese curds and beer. These run from April through October and they finish up the series with a costumethemed run and contest. The Award: One of our goals is to work towards this award. We know there are so many amazing running stores across the U.S. and we are honored to be on the list. It reinforces all of the hard work and extra steps our staff puts in to each customer and making PRO an integral part of our community. 33

PLAYMAKERS Okemos, MI Key Personnel: Brian Jones, John Benedict, Tom Keenoy History: What began as a small run-specialty store in the Meridian Mall has been cultivated into a nationally recognized outdoor retailer, rooted in the Greater Lansing community. After passionate runner and visionary, Curt Munson, purchased Playmakers in 1981, he fully devoted his mission for the business to exceptional customer service, education and health. In Their Words: We are not just a local specialty running store, we are an active member of the community. Besides the retail side of the business, we provide weekly educational opportunities and a variety of training teams from youth to adult. We help more than 100 local charity races a year by hosting packet pickups or being on-site with our event truck, while providing race day support and expertise at no cost. Finally, we support a variety of local charities at our events and through financial donations made by the store. The mission of our Fitness Foundation says it best: we want to encourage people to “Move More and Move Better.” Beyond our own educational opportunities, clinics, teams, and events, we can help local organizations or charities accomplish this, and we want to be involved. Special Events: Each year Playmakers attends and supports 100plus community events, races and grade school running events. Playmakers hosts five events throughout the year hosted by the Playmakers Fitness Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the wellness of the mid-Michigan community. The Playmakers Fitness Foundation also sponsors mileage clubs at The Boys and Girls Club of Lansing and St. Vincent Catholic Charities, and a free, eight-week 5K program with Blue Cross. The Award: Being among the top running stores in the country is truly an honor. This award is a reflection of our supportive and loyal staff, customers, event participants and community. People have always been at the root of what we do and now, more than ever, giving our customers an outstanding experience instore and online is so important to us. We look forward to the opportunity to grow, learn, listen and evolve over the next year.

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POTOMAC RIVER RUNNING Nine locations (one in Washington, DC, and eight in Virginia: Arlington, Burke, Fairfax, Leesburg, One Loudoun (Ashburn), Reston, Springfield, and Vienna). Key Personnel: Ray and Cathy Pugsley, Owners; Scott Raczko, Director of Operations; Bronson Lee, GM: Annie Lutz, Footwear Buyer/Lead Data Analyst; Lauren Haislip, Online Store Director; Gina DeGaetano, Director of Social Media; Elise Gebauer, Director of Communications; and nine store managers

History: PRR opened its first store in March, 2003, in Ashburn, VA. Its footprint from the distant D.C. suburbs into the heart of Washington gives it the opportunity to interact with many different types of customers. Its stores have different personalities and its customers visiting each of those stores are looking for different products. In Their Words: We started out with a focus on grassroots community support and as we have grown we have maintained that emphasis. Our support of the high school community, local road races, first responders/active duty military, teachers and charity groups is very rewarding for all of us. Special Events: Their training programs are a signature component of its brick-and-mortar business. The Award: Receiving the Best Running Stores Award is validation of all the hard work that the Potomac River Running family puts into helping people every day. We get our fair share of fivestar reviews on social media, which usually highlight a single experience in a single store, but this award is one that our whole company can celebrate together as a family. 34

RC OUTFITTERS One location in Peoria, IL Key Personnel: Adam White, Sue Schliepsiek, Amanda Brown, John Havenga

History: Founded as Running Central in 1977 and changed the name in 2019 to RC Outfitters as the name needed to evolve with its growing assortment of solutions beyond running shoes. In Their Words: Our store is unique because of the robust assortment of office, travel and commute apparel solutions that we offer our customers. Additionally, we have a children’s footwear department that covers first walkers through youth sizes. Special Events: RCO sponsors a litany of races in Central Illinois and is also responsible for coordinating the RCO to Peoria St. Jude Run that raised over $100,000 for St. Jude in 2019. Since its inception in 2015, the RCO to Peoria Run has raised more than $400,000. The Award: Receiving this award is a wonderful acknowledgement and source of validation to the hard work, dedication, heart and soul that our team pours into each day and every customer we are blessed to serve.

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RED COYOTE RUNNING AND FITNESS Red Coyote Running and Fitness OKC, Oklahoma City, OK; Red Coyote Running and Fitness Edmond, Edmond, OK Key Personnel: Burke and Jon Beck, Owners; Josh Lacan, GM; Jenny Broad, Buyer/Manager; Luis Chavez, Manager; Heather Crawford, Training Program Coordinator

History: Red Coyote was founded in Oklahoma City by Burke and Jon Beck in 2010 and opened its second location in Edmond in 2017. Burke and Jon named the store after their favorite running partner, their dog Pancho, who is supposedly part-coyote and still enjoys the occasional jog at 15 years old. Red Coyote has grown to more than 35 employees and has been chosen as a Best Running Store every year since it was founded and won Store of the Year in 2015. In Their Words: Red Coyote is more than a running store, it is a lifestyle for many runners, walkers and members of their Pack. Red Coyote has transformed 14 customers’ lives so profoundly that they have had the Red Coyote logo tattooed on their body. We strive every day to create an environment through events, service and knowledge that connects and empowers our community through running and fitness. Special Events: Red Coyote hosts six social runs a week and trains more than 1200 people annually. Red Coyote quickly pivoted to a virtual training model during COVID-19 and more than 1000 people signed up to train virtually. Red Coyote Thursday Night Pack Pint Runs are an OKC community staple that sometimes draw over 200 people and have been featured in Outside Magazine and Men’s Health. The Award: This award is really special to Red Coyote’s team and our community. The team at Red Coyote works so hard every day together to achieve it and then they are always very excited to celebrate it with Red Coyote’s amazing community every year. 35

RIDGEFIELD RUNNING Ridgefield, CT, and Darien, CT (opening in July) Key Personnel: Megan Searfoss, Owner

History: Opened in October, 2014, moved to the heart of downtown Ridgefield in March, 2019. The new location is a 100-year-old building with lots of history. In Their Words: Every customer goes through RRC’s Fit Process before putting on a pair of shoes, whether they are looking for a walking shoe, a shoe to stand at work all day or a shoe for a championship race. RRC supports the active community through sponsorship scholarship and education. Through a strong partnership with our Ridgefield Library, we have hosted Deena Kastor, Scott Jurek, Diana Nyad and many top orthopedics from HSS. Special Events: Megan Searfoss founded Run Like a Mother in 2008, a women’s national 5K race series, and RRC hosts the Ridgefield race. RRC puts on a trail race, half-marathon and Margarita 5K, as well as a few smaller events and monthly clinics for novice runners. The Award: The RRC team works hard to earn this award. They treat every customer like they are the secret shopper, ensuring that all are treated with the same respect and attention. It is a badge for them to tell the customer that we are among the best. Through the pandemic, RRC quickly became omni-channel, offering virtual fittings, curbside and delivery. Our staff has worked hard to adapt to the changes and our fit process, now by appointment, will become an integral part of the business moving forward.

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RUN FOR YOUR LIFE Three Locations within Charlotte, NC (Midtown, Piper Glen and University).

History: Run For Your Life was founded in 1989 and is Charlotte’s oldest run specialty shop. In Their Words: Our store is unique because we foster a spirit of inclusion and encourage everyone to use movement as medicine. Even though our name is Run For Your Life, we’ve dropped the run in our hashtag and use #foryourlife. Whether you run, walk, weightlift, swim or tri, we hope you do it wholeheartedly and #foryourlife. Special Events: They are the retail sponsor for the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon. The Award: Receiving this award is special to us because it recognizes the impact we have on our fitness community. Even though our staff may think they are simply selling shoes and socks, they are doing much more by fostering relationships and connecting through shared experiences. When guests walk in our doors, they know their abilities, backgrounds, and identities will be welcomed and valued.


RUN HUB NORTHWEST Eugene, OR Key Personnel: Owners Dustin and Kris Pearce; Assistant Managers Lillie Schrock and Tony Clement; Store Manager Lauren Moe

History: Run Hub Northwest opened its doors in May, 2015. Located in downtown Eugene, the store is just a mile from both Pre’s Trail and iconic Hayward Field. Owners Dustin and Kris Pearce moved to Eugene, OR, from St. Louis, MO, in 2012 after falling in love with Oregon on their honeymoon. In Their Words: Run Hub’s goal is to make everyone feel at home, whether they’re a beginning run/walker or an experienced runner. Special Events: RunVenture scavenger hunt runs, weekly community runs and monthly trail runs are a few of its popular events and its training programs continue to sell out. The Award: It’s an honor to be recognized as one of the Best Running Stores in the country alongside many other stores doing tremendous work. The recognition motivates us to continue to reach for new and better ways to serve our community.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

RUN MOORE Westminster, MD Key Personnel: Steve Moore, Owner. Colleen Kernan, Manager; Jack Ferguson, Lead Sales)

THE RUNNER’S EDGE One Location in Missoula, MT Key Personnel: Anders Brooker, Owner; Meg Brooker, Footwear Buyer; Vicky Mix, Manager and Apparel Buyer; Erin Forde, Accessory Buyer

History: Run Moore opened its doors with a modest location on the outskirts of town in 2014. Owner Steve Moore, a lifelong runner, needed shoes right after his son was born but had no local options. It was during this first sleep-deprived week that the idea of Run Moore was born. In the summer of 2019 it moved to a larger space on historic Main St. In Their Words: We always give the most personal time we can with our customer. We rarely have someone walk in with a shoe in mind and leave without at least trying some other options. We use our foot scanner, our personal experiences and our shoe knowledge to identify the perfect option. Two years ago we set up a wall for people to write their personal goals. It brings us tremendous joy when customers come in after they’ve had their shoes and they can check off that they ran a PR time or stayed healthy or whatever they hoped to accomplish. If we can help people achieve their personal goals then we know we have done our job. Special Events: Since opening they have hosted group runs from the shop that typically conclude with a beer at a neighborhood pub, a yoga class with a local studio or a demo opportunity with one of its shoe partners. It has developed a charity race for a local school’s athletic department, helped to create and support the county’s Girls on the Run race and set up a shoe fund for local runners. The Award: It’s so humbling to be included and recognized as one of the best run shops in the country. I was thrilled to be able to share the news with our staff. They all work so hard and believe so much in what we do. I have staff that have been with us since we opened and to see how we’ve grown and the impact we have made in our town has been so rewarding. They care so much about our vision and making sure our customer leaves with a positive experience. They make my day so enjoyable and I am so happy to share this honor with them.

History: Anders Brooker and his parents started the store in 2001. The Runner’s Edge has increased its footprint and community involvement for the past 19 years and it works closely with its local run club, Run Wild Missoula, and helped them establish a sizable membership base with more than 1700 members. In Their Words: We are fun! We love to be involved in the community, helping wherever we can. We believe that having fun and celebrating with our staff creates a cohesive environment that radiates to our customers. Our hashtag #MoreThanRun embodies what the Runner’s Edge stands for and enhances the relationships that we build with our community and customers. Special Events: The Treadmill Challenge is a fundraiser for a local non-profit, Youth Homes. The store invites six talented men and six women to run 10 minutes on treadmills set at a 12 percent grade. Spectators buy tickets, have the chance to place bets on the winners and purchase beverages, with all proceeds going to Youth Homes. The Rut Mountain Runs all take place at the Big Sky Resort in Montana. This event draws people from all over the world and has been named the Best Ultra by Runner’s World in January, 2020. The Award: This award is an acknowledgment of all of the hard work and dedication we’ve put into establishing a strong presence within our community. It’s also a recognition of how our community and peers view our shop. Owners and managers often get credit, but this shows how our entire staff works together to create something special.


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RUNNING LAB Brighton, MI Key Personnel: Ken Larscheid, Owner/Buyer; Toni Reese, Store Manager; Kimberly Bastian, Asst. Manager; Brenna Wheeler, Marketing Manager

History: Its one location opened July 2, 2011. In Their Words: What makes our store unique is we have made a consistent commitment to putting our staff and customers first. We are constantly trying to find new ways to make interactions with the customer easier and more efficient without sacrificing the quality of service. Inspiring new and current customers that want to be active are at the core of every decision we make. These principles allow us to build the business one customer at a time no matter how long it takes. Special Events: Running Lab sponsors/supports a large charity running group call Love Runs, a group of 400-plus runners that raise money every year for human trafficking in Detroit. They are the single largest charity team of the Detroit Free Press Marathon. The Award: This award means a lot to our staff as it validates all the hard work we put into the details of the processes, culture and service we provide every day. This is the first time since 2013 we have received this award and it was a breath of fresh air for the staff to tell our story and share this award with our customers.


RUNNING NICHE St. Louis, MO Key Personnel: Jennifer Henderson and Bob Dyer, Co-Owners; Mike Dyer, Brand/Social Media Manager

History: Founded in 2018, one store in an urban location. In Their Words: We as owners are always in the store and we strive to give people very personalized service. Our focus has been to create a running and walking “home” for all people. Not only do we provide great footwear, bras and accessories, as certified Lydiard Method coaches we enjoy helping athletes of all abilities reach their goals. We have a small store in a revitalizing neighborhood. Being a part of the improvements and contributing to the health and well-being of the residents in this community is very gratifying. Special Events: Running Niche has group social runs, educational seminars and one-on-one coaching. The Award: Earning this Best Running Stores recognition is reinforcement that we are doing the right things to build a running community in the city of St. Louis and that we are on the right track. To receive this after two years of opening is especially encouraging.

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RUNNING ZONE Melbourne, FL Key Personnel: Don and Denise Piercy, Owners; Pete Vaughn, Director of Operations; John Carr, General Manger: Katie Johnson, Customer Service Manager

History: Since opening in 2003, Running Zone has been serving the running and fitness community in Brevard County, FL, with the goal to promote healthy active lifestyles and fitness. Combining the retail location with running and walking events and related programs through its non-profit 501(c)(3) charity, Running Zone Foundation, it aims to engage all types of people and fitness levels. In Their Words: Running Zone created and continues to cultivate a community of athletes of all levels, shapes and sizes by holding events throughout the year. Our store is a space where runners and walkers can come and get information on a variety of topics, aimed at creating and improving healthy lifestyles. The atmosphere in the store is always positive and supportive to all. The staff is well trained, open and welcoming to all that enter the store. We truly believe that the fun runs, events and employees that our store has makes a huge impact in our community. Each year we strive to fit more customers, increase participation in races and celebrate the incredible customers we have. Special Events: The Running Zone Foundation has 15 events in the 2020–2021 season, including a seven-event Race Series (all 5K or less), Corporate 5K, Turkey Trot and Space Coast Marathon & Half Marathon (the oldest marathon in Florida). Since 2004, more than $1 million has been donated locally. RZ also offers four free weekly group run/walk events that provide a safe and fun environment for participants of all abilities, in addition to a “Summer Brewery Tour” where it partners with nine local breweries to host a run/walk event. The Award: We are thrilled to receive this designation as a 2020 Best Running Store. The award is really an acknowledgement of our core beliefs on customer service and community involvement. We are proud to represent our community in this manner and hope to serve as a good example of what running specialty has to offer. 39

RUSH RUNNING COMPANY Two Locations — Bentonville and Fayetteville, NC Key Personnel: Mike Rush, President; Drew Conner, General Manager; Keri Letson, Lead Buyer

History: After being lifelong runners Mike and Ali Rush founded the Bentonville store in April of 2008. The store was so successful that in 2010 they decided to open up about 30 minutes south in Fayetteville, also known as the Track and Field Capital of the World. Both stores have dominated the region as the premier specialty running headquarters to anybody in need of quality walking/running gear. In Their Words: Rush Running Company shares qualities with many other stores around the nation, but what makes Rush unique is the culmination of all those qualities. One of those qualities is knowledge. Upon hiring, our staff goes through a rigorous training cycle where they aren’t allowed to speak to a customer for over a month until they have demonstrated that they have exceptional knowledge of every single item in the store. Their expertise includes human biomechanics, metabolic systems and kinesiology. We put a lot of value in the customer’s experience and a big part of that is having associates who are extremely knowledgeable in everything/anything that has to do with running. Special Events: Traditionally, they sponsor more than 40 local charity events a year, but the event that’s most special is a local 5K that attracts around 500 runners and raises funds to benefit the less fortunate in the community. Through Rush Running and New Balance, they acquire inexpensive, quality walking/ running shoes for hundreds of men, women and children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford shoes. The Award: Our staff definitely gets excited/nervous around this time every year. We continue to talk about the Best Stores in America award ALL. THE. TIME! We understand that this is an honor and that not every store get an opportunity to make the list. That said, when we’re fortunate enough to find ourselves on it, there’s definitely a little bit of a celebration. Not that other stores don’t work hard, but our staff goes so far above and beyond with each customer that winning this award is validation of a job well done. It means a lot.

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SALT LAKE RUNNING COMPANY Three Stores — Salt Lake City, Foothill Village, Draper Key Personnel: Guy and Debbie Perry, Owners

ST. PETE RUNNING COMPANY St. Petersburg, FL Key Personnel: Janna and Cody Angell, Owners

History: Started in 2014 with one store nestled next to the popular Pinellas Trail, not too far from the Gulf of Mexico in St. Pete, FL. In Their Words: We are a Community Running Shop. Before COVID hit we had more than 100 events per year to support a healthy, social and active community — everything from community runs to kids’ running class, from Margarita runs to an adult track and swim program. Special Events: St. Pete Running Company owns a few small races and its most popular is called Race for the Cupcake on St. Pete Beach. It raises money to support Girls on the Run. The Award: We are humbled to be recognized. It’s cool to know that in this industry the little guys can compete and provide service that transcends most big stores or online. History: Salt Lake Running Company opened in 1995 as a small 1800-square-foot space with the simple objective of selling stuff to runners. SLRC has evolved to three stores with a mission to support people who seek to move their bodies anywhere from the gym to the trail. In Their Words: Along with a strong customer service focus, SLRC provides our active community with shopping, training, educational and racing opportunities. The Award: Receiving the 2020 Best Running Stores Award is an honor and means a lot to the SLRC staff as it is an outward representation of all that we strive as a team to do day in and day out. Each member of the Salt Lake Running team has played an important role in receiving this designation and we grateful for all of their hard work and positive attitudes. 40

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TORTOISE AND HARE SPORTS One Location in Glendale, AZ Key Personnel: Co-Owners Rebecca and Nathan Hohenstein

History: Opened in 2012 with one location and has been named to Best Running Stores list seven times. In Their Words: We were founded on the principles of amazing service and a focus on our community. We continue to invest back in our community through education and encouragement while trying to have more fun. Special Events: Arizona Youth Cross Country Championships, Ice Cream Run, Holiday Lights Run, Monster Mash & Dash, Cookies and Milk 5K The Award: Receiving the Best Running Stores Award is a great honor for our team and represents a continued commitment to our customers and community. It also gives us a good pulse on where our customer service sits and places we can continue to grow and improve.


TRACK SHACK OF ORLANDO One Location in Orlando, FL www. Key Personnel: Betsy and Jon Hughes, Owners; Chris Hughes, Director of Retail Operations; Nathan Adams, Buyer; Five additional managers including Bruce Egeland (17 years) H i s t o r y : I n 19 7 7, three local runners/ businessmen opened Track Shack. Four mont hs later Jon Hughes became manager and soon after he bought out one owner. Naturally, he hired this cute girl named Betsy who ran track at the same high school he had run for. After graduating from UF, Betsy and Jon were married and bought out the two other owners (1983.) Track Shack is in its third location in 43 years, all within a three-block radius. The current store is 5000-square feet with lots of parking. In Their Words: Track Shack is a free-standing building in downtown Orlando and until COVID-19 we did not have an online presence. Shoes and feet are our business and people are our passion. Not opening additional doors, just growing the store has been a great business model for us in many ways. Our employees are full-time and several have been with us for close to 20 years, one for 42. One unique aspect of our business is that we combine three companies in one to make a positive impact daily in Central Florida — Track Shack retail, our event company and our training programs. Special Events: Track Shack Events was incorporated in 1990 and now employs 13 full-timers and several consultants who produce local running/walking events with participants in the 1500-18,000 range. They co-produce a number of Disney events and also running programs, yoga, Physical Therapy clinics, foam rolling and Good Form Running clinics all month long. Its events raise funds for charities and to keep it local they began the Track Shack Youth Foundation in 1994 The Award: It is incredibly gratifying to know you are respected by one’s peers and vendors who are part of an amazing industry, but I think anyone who works in the running business does it because they love the sport, they love people and don’t mind hard work. This year, I think every store wins, no matter what. Figuring out what this industry looks like after COVID-19 is challenging for all of us and hopefully, eventually all our doors are open around the U.S. and that makes us as retailers winners, but it keeps all our communities healthy.

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UP AND RUNNING IN DAYTON Dayton and Troy, OH Key Personnel: Owner Susie Stein

History: Dayton was founded in 2005 and they opened their second store in Troy in 2011. In Their Words: When the store originally opened it was an allwomen’s store as there wasn’t a place for the female athlete to shop and feel comfortable in the Dayton area. As the store evolved it became a full-service store to men and women of all ages and ability levels. Our mission is to provide a place for everyone to enhance their lives through running and walking. We are one team, bonded by shared love of our community. Special Events: Its beginner 5K and 10K programs teach walkers how to implement running and complete their first race. They also organize a summer running juniors program for kids kindergarten through eighth grade to introduce them to the joy of running. Along with the summer juniors program they also sponsor and organize a summer kids’ triathlon that typically attracts a few hundred participants. The Award: We are honored that our community believes in our service, expertise and community involvement to nominate us for this award. Every day we strive to make a positive impact with every customer as we feel it is contagious when someone feels the joy of exercise.


VARSITY SPORTS Three Locations – Baton Rouge, Mandeville and New Orleans Key Personnel: Jenni Peters, Owner; Kristen Manske, Manager–Varsity Sports Mandeville; Bud Weiss, Manager–Varsity Sports New Orleans; Jimmy Wiggins, Manager

History: Baton Rouge was founded in 2000, Mandeville in 2007 and New Orleans in 2010. In Their Words: We love to experiment with shortterm leases and pop-up stores and have done some in Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans for two years; VS Metairie with an 18-month sublease and VS Perkins Rowe Upscale shopping area for Christmas season November–January. Part of the brand personality is that all of our locations are in houses in neighborhood shopping districts. Special Events: Like many stores they have been really involved with support programs for the front line in critical care. Docs on Duty have 50 pairs of Hokas for critical care Doctors in Baton Rouge, Mandeville and New Orleans. Front Line Soles donated a pair of Brooks running shoes to every graduate of Our Lady of the Lake Nursing school, who were graduating early to go help with Covid-19 crisis. Front Line donated another 60 shoes to Nurses on the Covid-19 units. Hidden Heroes is donating 60 Brooks shoes to the behind-the-scenes janitorial staff working to keep the hospitals safe and clean. The Award: It’s always wonderful to be recognized by your industry as doing a good job. Our goal is to both be our absolute best no only in the store, but also out in our communities.

© 2020 Diversified Communications

WHIRLAWAY SPORTS CENTER Methuen MA Key Personnel: Dave Kazanjian, Owner; Maggi Murray, Adriana Birleanu and Ryan Kowal, Managers

History: Whirlaway Sports was established on June 1, 1983 by Dave Kazanjian after graduating from Southern Illinois University. It has been in business in one location for 37 years. In Their Words: Whirlaway Sports Center is located on 16 acres that also house our family golf driving range (of 86 years), the oldest family-owned driving range in the country. It is in a 16,000-square-foot building along with a golf pro shop and Al’s Diner, a family breakfast restaurant, on the first floor. The Sports Center is on the second floor. Needless to say, it is a unique complex. Special Events: Whirlaway hosts many outstanding events. Among them: A Spike Night for high school athletes, a Captains Night for more than 55 cross-country captains from 18 area high schools and a Ladies Night twice a year for women to come out for a relaxing night with friends to be pampered, socialize with other active women and enjoy free offerings like chair massage, nutrition assessments and physical therapy and podiatry consults. Its biggest event is its annual four-day Tent Sale, which is a Thank You to its customers for their support. Whirlaway is known for its great savings and deals during this “celebration.” The Award: Receiving the Best Stores in America award is very satisfying because it recognizes that all the hard work my staff puts in is acknowledged. To be nominated by our customers and celebrated as part of the industry of our peers validates our daily efforts. Personally, I am enormously proud to see that plaque on the wall, knowing that 37 years of hard work continues to pay off in so many ways. 43

XTRA MILE RUNNING Schaumburg, IL Key Personnel: Christopher Schiel, Owner; Danielle Morris, General Manager; Rachael Vaccaro and Caitlyn Woodman, Floor Associates ; Diane Cain, ATC, Coach; Junior Staff Members Mikey Schiel, Quality Assurance, and Sophie Schiel, Chief Happiness Officer. History: Xtra Mile Running was founded in April, 2018, thanks to one fateful weekend the previous fall. Chris Schiel volunteered as a pacer at a Boston Qualifying event where he helped a man named Matan qualify after 10 years of trying. Emotions and inspiration ran high that day, and after seven years of management and a freshly-earned MBA, Chris quit his job that same week and began working on a store. A few short months later, Xtra Mile Running opened its doors. In Their Words: Xtra Mile Running was created with the local community in mind and thrives because of it. This year will start the third Annual Summer Youth Run Program, where the coaches at Xtra Mile Running have the privilege of seeing children grow up before their eyes. The Couch to 5K program brings together people to surpass their own expectations. Now on its fourth iteration, the program has a core group of veterans who return each spring and fall to not just improve upon their 5K times, but to inspire others. The local running group, Fast Track, from day one has been a partner to Xtra Mile Running and the store is the group’s home base. Special Events: Xtra Mile is a key partner of School District 54 and the Schaumburg Park District and recently accepted a role as host and race director of the Roselle Run for the Roses 5K. They co-host Global Running Day at Volkening Lake with the park district every June, and in July the Summer Youth Run Program supports the Gummerson Track Meet at Conant High School. Xtra Mile works with the Fast Track Racing Team to help organize Kids’ Night at the Harper College Track every year in August. One Friday a month during the summer there is a group run to a local brewery for a run ’n fun event called “Friday Night Flights.” The Award: Receiving this recognition solidifies that Xtra Mile Running is achieving its vision: to have a closely-knit group of recreational runners with deep roots and continuous involvement in Schaumburg and its neighboring communities. This recognition is only possible because of the Xtra Mile Running community — because of their support of our store and its programs. Not everyone in our family is a runner, but everyone who runs is our family and this award belongs to them.

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