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Run Flagstaff Family

From top left clockwise: Nick Hilton, Colin Schultz, Shelly Breunig, Sarah Sherry, Norman Sherry, Vince Sherry pose for a photo at Run Flagstaff.

Ask a high-country runner which store is “Flagstaff’s Most Romantic” and our imaginations fly to a welcoming space with a meaningful mural on the wall and myriad treats on the shelves. If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or the runner in your life — a gift that says, “Darling, I support your athletic obsessions” — Run Flagstaff is the place.

Love begins to flow the moment you walk in. Staff greet you with a smile and ask how they can help. If you want assistance choosing a product, they’re experts on clothing, shoes, hydration gear, fuel.

According to manager Nick Hilton, “Our goal is to make sure everyone gets the highest level of customer service we can provide. When you’re here, you are the center of our attention.” The person analyzing your gait on the treadmill may be an elite athlete, but they know how to make you feel like one, too.

Building a successful local business isn’t simple. Even in running-centric Flagstaff, the economics are tough. But Run Flagstaff is not some high-end boutique. It sells excellent gear at reasonable prices -- which makes shopping there not only socially virtuous but fiscally responsible. To give your wallet some extra love, their awards program offers a $25 credit every time you spend $250.

Where does this love come from? I think it flows directly from store owners Vince and Sarah Sherry. Without making a big deal out of it, they quietly open the store for packet pickups, workshops and discussion panels. They also support a local running group, Team Run Flagstaff. The store hosts races, such as last month’s El Niño El Schmiño, and provides timing services for events across the Southwest.

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Their love for high-country runners is especially evident in the mural splashed across the wall that shows a dozen familiar faces. This “patchwork quilt of the diverse local running scene,” as Myles Schrag called it, is an emblem of our community’s sincere dedication to running.

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If I were writing a Valentine’s Day card to Run Flagstaff, I’d recall special moments in my personal history with the store. We met just months after I moved to Flagstaff. I went in for a pair of shoes, thinking I’d like to start running. The clerk told me a session of Step Into Running was about to begin and invited me to join. That pivotal conversation made me a Flagstaff runner.

Then there was the time I bought shoes from a guy who just happened to be a national marathon champion. That sort of thing is one of the many pleasures of shopping there. Full confession: I still have the receipt.

Next time you walk into Run Flagstaff, give Vince and Sherry and their staff some love. Make sure they know how much we appreciate their support for the high-country running community. There are no great running towns without great running stores. Luckily, we have one.

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Julie Hammonds is coordinating editor for High Country Running. She invites submissions on any aspect of the local running scene. Send tips and ideas to runner@juliehammonds.com or via Twitter @highcountry_run.

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