Sunday, December 1, 2013

Community Running Stores: The Best Small Businesses

Today was the Tryptophan Run, sponsored by Vertical Runner in Hudson, Ohio.  It is a free social running event in which runners have two hours to run a two-mile loop as many times as they wish.  For each loop, the runner drops a number in a hat, and at the end of the two hours there is a drawing with lots of free prizes.

I wanted to walk a few loops this year, but I was afraid of damaging my broken foot.  Last year I ran five loops, and then I took a break for coffee in one of the local coffee shops.  After the running, we all gathered in the store for the drawing, and while I didn't win anything, many of my friends did.  It was a great time.

Runners are a close-knit community.  Many of us know each other from running groups, races, or just passes on the road or trail.  There are many runners I recognize on Facebook whom I would never recognize face to face (well, maybe with running gear on).  We know about each others' injuries, race victories, and digestive problems.

Runners are weird, right?

A good running store is a part of the local running community.  Vertical Runner is a chain, but the owners are all local runners who encourage the community.  Vince Rucci, owner of Vertical Runner Hudson, has no idea who I am, but he makes sure to invite me to every Vertical Runner event.  I have seen Vince on the Pine Run trail, I have seen him among groups of runners, and I have seen his back-end as he blew by me numerous times on the Tryptophan Run last year.  He has provided water, Gu, and Gatorade on practice race runs, and he gives out awesome prizes in the Tryptophan drawing.

When you see this truck, you know something fun is going on.

Sure, I can go online and order Saucony Guide 6s (not anymore) for a small discount, but the question is, why would I?  Vertical Runner gives a ten percent discount to my running club (The Ohio Runners Network), and I can get great service there.

American Express started a tradition of supporting small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving, called Small Business Saturday.  While I don't own an American Express card, and I rarely step out of my house for at least two days after Thanksgiving, I would suggest that we can support small businesses at any time of the year.  Running stores like Vertical Runner (and Second Sole) invest in the community, so I would like to return the favor.

Thank you, community businesses.  Thank you, Vertical Runner!  I'll be running with you at the Tryptophan Run in 2014!