Run Flagstaff is the little running store that’s known around the world.
“We have people from all over the U.S. and from various nations come visit us,” said store owner Vince Sherry.
Sherry said the store is probably so well-known among the international running crowd because Flagstaff is a popular training location for endurance athletes. The city’s altitude, beautiful weather and attractive surroundings draw all kinds of athletes.
“We have teams from all over the world that come to train here and there’s Hypo2,” he said, referring to the high performance sport center on University Avenue.
Run Flagstaff was started in 2005 by local engineer Alison Ryan and was called A Runner’s High, Sherry said.
“She wasn’t an avid runner, but she thought there was a need for the store and she was looking to do something different,” he said. “There’s such a running community in Flagstaff that she thought the store would be a good fit.”
A local runner, Mike Friedberg, managed the shop for her for several years, Sherry said.
“I think that helped a lot, because Mike was pretty well-known in the community. He ran a lot of the local races,” Sherry said.
The store specializes in top-quality running gear, which was also something that Friedberg and Ryan started, Sherry said.
“We carry the higher end of a lot of common brands, such as Nike. We also carry brands that you won’t find at an athletic store” Sherry said.
The store is also stocked to the rafters with hydration packs, water bottles, shirts, shorts, socks and nutrition products.
The higher-end shoes are better made, more comfortable and more durable, he said. The store also offers a 30-day guarantee on its products. If you don’t like it, bring it back and exchange it for something else.
“We understand that these shoes are more expensive. They’re an investment. If they don’t fit right or something’s not quite right about them, we want a runner to be able to bring them back,” Sherry said.
An ill-fitting shoe can be uncomfortable, which means that a runner is unlikely to wear it, he said. An experienced runner might go out and buy another shoe, but a beginning runner may get discouraged and quit.
In order to avoid that, Run Flagstaff has customers hop on a treadmill to record a short video of them running.
The staff then uses the video to determine a runner’s stride and footfall to help pick out the right shoes.
STAFF ARE RUNNERS
Good quality products may draw in the amateur runner, but what about the pros who come to visit?
Most professional runners have corporate sponsorships — they don’t need to buy shoes, Sherry said.
Another reason the store may be so well-known is its knowledgeable staff, Sherry said. Most of the staff are lifelong runners, as are he and his wife.
“We have a lot of people who just stop in to ask us questions,” he said.
Staff have used many of the products that the store carries and they’re regular runners who are used to the challenges of training for a marathon or triathlon or even the local 5K.
They also know some of the best running trails in town, which draws in some of the visiting professional athletes.
Sherry has been running since he was 10 years old. His wife and store co-owner, Sarah, started running in high school.
Nick Hilton, the store manager, was a four-time Division II All-American at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. He’s finished in the top 20 at three consecutive U.S. running championships.
Adam Vess, who works at the store and does timing for local races, won four state titles in high school and won two championship titles in college. He also qualified for the 2013 U.S. Track and Field Indoor Track and Field Championships.
The store’s accountant, Nick Arciniaga, ran in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. He came in seventh overall and was the second American to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon this year.
Jacque Povilaitis is another employee who runs for the Northern Arizona University triathlon team, bicycle team and mountain biking team.
Brian Shrader is a Flagstaff native who works at the store. He holds 13 state titles for Sinagua High School from 2006 to 2010. He’s also a four time All-American at NAU and helped the school take fourth and second places in the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships, respectively.
But sharing their love of running goes beyond fitting shoes and selling shirts. Run Flagstaff also sponsors many local races, including a summer race series that draws people from around the state. It also has a bulletin board in the shop that lists numerous running clubs, races and other activities.
The store also sponsors the no-profit running clubs Team Run Flagstaff, Kids Run Flagstaff and Team Run Flagstaff Pro. The clubs provide coaching and training for kids, adult runners of all skill levels and professional runners.
Team Run Flagstaff also has a program to help residents start running called Step Into Running.
It also sponsors the Run S.M.A.R.T. Project, a coaching program for runners that’s based on the principles of the renowned running coach, Jack Daniels.
The project holds running camps for high school athletes and provides Internet-based coaching for others.
204 Route 66
Mon-Fri 10 -6; Sat 10 - 5; Sun 11 - 4.