After three full days of education, exhibits and networking, The Running Event 2023 closed on Thursday, Nov. 30, with an appropriately festive evening honoring The Best Running Stores.

Highlighting the evening was the announcement of Palmetto Running Company as 2023 Store of the Year.

Also receiving special recognition at the celebration as well as the inaugural Best Running Stores panel on Tuesday were the three other finalists for the prestigious annual award — Fleet Feet Louisville, Mill City Running and Running Lab.

All of the finalists from every corner of America are profiled in these following pages, allowing them to tell the industry in their own words what makes them the best — and what this award means to them.


Palmetto Running Co.

Two-store South Carolina run specialty retailer nabs top honors in 2023.

Hilton Head Island, SC; Bluffton, SC

Key Personnel: Keri Straughn, Christian Fyfe and Rob Fyfe, Co-owners; Tammy Zito, GM; Donna Felix, Assistant Manager; Mia Dortenzio, Assistant Buyer; Melissa Matus, Apparel Specialist

History: Founded in 2011, Palmetto Running Company is a family-owned business founded by a father, son and daughter located in the heart of the Lowcountry. Palmetto Running Company prides itself on a highly curated collection of versatile products that are thoughtfully made with the planet and people in mind. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “As business owners, we believe that owning a store is about so much more than the day-to-day. It’s about what you choose to do with the platform you’ve been given. Here at PRC we want to redefine run specialty. Whether its employee culture, community involvement, customer experience, store visuals, product assortment or environmental impact, we are always looking for ways to push the norm. We believe that run specialty is so much more than just the sport. It’s about inclusion. It’s about mental wellness. It’s about the feeling of being a part of something bigger. Together we have the power to change lives.” 

About Their Local Running Community:  “We are grateful to live in an area where we can run outside 100 percent of the year. Because of that we like to celebrate the rich history of our area and the incredible wildlife that reside on our island (home to over 400 sea turtle nests in 2022) as well as do our best to protect and care for our local environment.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We view this award as a true reflection of our incredible team. Even with two doors we have always run our business with a small staff. That’s because the team we have works so hard and believes in our store so much. They show up every day ready to make a difference in someone’s life. They come in full of life with each of our core values close at heart. So this award is for them. It shows that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Advice for Becoming a Best Running Store:  “Step outside your four walls and find a way to give back to the community that keeps you going.” 


The 2023 Finalists
Profiles of the three other finalists for Store of the Year.

Fleet Feet Louisville
Louisville, KY

Key Personnel: Erin Getz, Operating Partner; Donnie Fry, Retail Experience Manager; Myrdin Thompson, Training Program Director; Suzanne Melloy, Outfitter 

History: The store opened its doors in 1999. Erin Getz has been the Operating Partner since 2017. She just opened her second location in Louisville in November.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our entire team and our grassroots involvement in our community make the store unique. We incorporate our core values into everything we do, both inside the store and out in our community. We believe that it is a privilege to serve, whether that is listening to our customers’ needs, supporting our training programs participants, cheering on our Racing Team members, becoming more involved in DEI initiatives or sponsoring and participating in local races and events.”

About Their Local Running Community:  “One of the most unique aspects of the Louisville running community is the overlap and support the different running groups have for each other. It’s really special. You’ll see people running with one group and then heading to another later in the day or week and groups sharing events, runs and races for each other. We love our running community in Louisville and are so excited to keep it thriving and growing each year.”

What the Award Means to Them: “This award means the world to our team. We know that we are putting people first each and every day and this only solidifies that. It’s such an honor to receive this award two years in a row.”

Advice for Becoming a Best Running Store:  We follow and stay true to our core values:

• Put People First

• Do the Right Thing

• It is a Privilege to Serve

• Create Value with Every Action

• Lead and Influence in All We Do

• Engage and Empower Our Community

• Be Present in Every Moment

• Work, Sweat, Live Passionately

• Run Together

Mill City Running & Saint City Running
Minneapolis, MN; Saint Paul, MN 

Key Personnel: Jeff and Bekah Metzdorff, Co-owners; Luke Windholz, Head of Operations and Product; Chelsea Kipp, Director of Retail; Andrea (Drea) Haus, Community and Marketing Manager

History: Mill City Running opened its doors in July 2013. The second store, Saint City Running, opened in December of 2020 just downriver in Saint Paul. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our commitment to providing consistently excellent customer service. We understand it takes a lot to cross the threshold into our store, especially to folks who might not call themselves ‘runners.’ Anytime you step into one of our stores, we want you to feel welcomed, heard and cared for.”

About Their Local Running Community: “We have a dedicated base of community members that are the core consumer for City Running: members of the Mill City Running Race Team. Our race team looks a little different than most due to the fact that we have 900-plus members, of all backgrounds, experience levels and abilities. We have several runners who have already punched their tickets to the Olympic Trials marathon training alongside folks looking to complete their first 5K. We have a massive presence on the local race scene and if you’re someone who likes to travel for races, chances are there will be someone else on the Team racing as well. The Race Team is the heartbeat of our stores. If we need guinea pigs for different ideas, we test them out on the Race Team. When brands are looking to do product testing, Team members get first dibs. They are activists, fundraisers and volunteers. They formed splinter groups to provide connections for folks who might not run the same paces, a couple being a council that plans potato-themed potluck events, and knitting club (called Side Stitch). Perhaps the loudest of the subgroups is the NORTPB(P), which stands for the “Nation’s Only Race Team Pep Band (Probably)”. Anytime a new runner comes to town, our Race Team members are the best ambassadors, bringing them into the fold without hesitation. 

Running Lab
Brighton, MI

Key Personnel: Ken Larscheid, Owner; Toni Reese, Owner; Jen Crutchfield, GM; Keith McCaffery, Floor Manager; Joe Wright, Shipping Manager; Blake Strand, Buyer; Meghan Zoll, Marketing Manager

History: Running Lab was founded in July 2011 in downtown Brighton by Ken Larscheid. Two-and-a-half years ago, Running Lab relocated to a larger storefront a few doors down from the original location. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We believe that passions are a strong desire that motivates and drives our team to pursue and invest time, energy and resources into something that brings them joy, satisfaction and purpose. If you lose passion for just one of these four, it will show in work and collaboration with the team: Community, Customers, Staff, Product. Running Lab is always innovating staff recognition programs, processes, technology, events and business opportunities. We are never comfortable being complacent. We are always looking for new opportunities to inspire our community to move, valuing our team and building our business one great experience at a time. Our staff turnover rate is something we are incredibly proud of. Since 2021, we have had one team member leave to be promoted to being a trackster with New Balance.” 

About Their Local Running Community:  “Team Running Lab was established in December 2016. When it first started, it was a paid group with approximately 20 participants all running the same pace together. Since then Running Lab has vowed not to charge for our training group and our team exploded in participation. So much so that we have pace leaders that have taken on leadership roles within the training group to help keep the pace, provide guidance and create an inclusive community. One of the most unique qualities of Team Running Lab is that we have athletes of all abilities running and walking with us. We have a strong chapter of Ainsley’s Angels and the Special Olympics here in southeast Michigan and many of our team members are runners and riders within the programs. There is nothing greater than seeing our entire community come together on our Tuesday night group runs.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It means so much to our team. It acknowledges the hard work, dedication and expertise of the team in providing outstanding customer service and products to the running community.”

Advice for Becoming a Best Running Store:  “Empower your staff to be leaders of the customer experience on the sales floor. Follow up on their development, celebrate their daily successes and the value they bring to your business. Running Lab’s success is directly linked to our incredible staff and the energy they bring to our store daily. Doing this will create a striving culture that will cultivate customers for life and a staff you are so incredibly proud of.”


BRS 2023
Profiles of all of the winners of the 2023 Best Running Stores.


Sioux Falls, SD

Key Personnel: Greg Koch, Owner; Derrick Ettel, Operations Manager; Morgan Sauer, Marketing Manager; Ben Devin, Weekend Manager

History: This single-door business was founded in 2014 by the Watley brothers.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “What sets 605 Running Company apart is our holistic and individualized approach to serving the running community. We take pride in providing an award-winning, immersive retail experience that goes beyond traditional shopping. In addition, we have a strong commitment to the running scene through our ownership of local races, reinforcing our dedication to the running community. Our store stands out by offering personalized run coaching services, ensuring that runners of all levels can receive tailored guidance to improve their performance and reach their goals. We further contribute to the running ecosystem by serving as contract timers for races throughout the entire state of South Dakota.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It holds profound significance for both myself and my dedicated team. It represents a culmination of nine years of unwavering commitment and hard work. Being recognized nationally and by our peers in the running industry is a distinct honor. This validates the passion, expertise and dedication that every member of our team has put into creating an exceptional running store experience.” 


Two Locations in the California Bay Area: Burlingame and San Francisco

Key Personnel: Monte Keleher, Owner; Eileen Urtz, GM; Nick Kovaleski, Director of Operations; Derek Wun, Footwear Buyer. Store Managers: Chance Kinney, Carlos Guerra, Elizabeth Ford, Cindy Phan 

History: A Runner’s Mind was founded in 2010 in Burlingame, and the San Francisco location opened in 2013.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our motto, ‘Movement is Life,’ drives everything we do in the shops, in the community, with our brand partners and on the planet. We strive to push the needle in the right direction relating to stewardship and sustainability in our industry. From educating our guests to offering feedback to brands about how their products and practices impact the earth, to our commitment to producing zero waste events, our team works hard to ensure future generations have a healthy planet to run on. Also, in the words of one of our team members, ‘We bring the freaking energy. We are weird and we are fun. We are unstoppable!’” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We are honored to receive this award, especially knowing that it starts with nominations from our incredible community. It both validates our hard work and pushes us to continue finding new and innovative ways to engage with our guests. It reminds us that we’re not just a store, we are a community created by local runners, coaches, physical therapists and more. Receiving this award makes us proud of this neighborhood of sorts we have created and motivates us to continue helping our guests pursue their goals. A Runner’s Mind thanks everyone who has run, walked or rolled with us through the years, this award is for all of us.” 


Bethlehem, PA

Key Personnel: Bruce Haines, Owner

History: Founded in 1984.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We have a unique store culture, based on our respect and appreciation for our team members, our community and our customers.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It is a validation of our staff’s ongoing commitment to our customers and community.”


Nine locations in Georgia: Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Cartersville, Cumming, Decatur, Kennesaw, Marietta, Midtown (Atlanta), and Suwanee

Key Personnel: Mike Cosentino, Chief Running Officer; Andrae Williams, Ride Experience Manager. General Managers: Fernando Del Valle, Matt Morlen, Jason Toney. General Managers/Owners: Jay Stephenson, Alex Rodriguez, Fe Rodriguez. Store Managers: Steve DeMoss, Zach Czerniak, Liz Debusschere, Shanta McMillan, Molly Southern, Carolyn Cooper, Austin Elder, Billy Simpson, Edward Hargrove

History: Big Peach Running was founded in 2014 in Brookhaven, GA, and 2024 will mark the business’ 20th anniversary. Big Peach Running now boasts nine locations — including two Big Peach Ride + Run stores (Brookhaven and Midtown). A tenth door is slated to open in Dawsonville, GA, in late 2023.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “I’m not sure we are ‘unique.’ We participate in a channel that is collectively committed to serving its respective and collective communities, while embracing and promoting a lifestyle that is wonderfully worth sharing. Yes, we have achieved some scale and influence that is a legitimate blessing and an equally appropriate level of responsibility. Moreover, we have assets like Big Peach On-Wheels, our Big Peach Ride & Run concept in two stores, title-sponsored events, a Leadership Team Retreat and our Big Peach Screen Printing & Embroidery operation. But they are only unique in that they are some of our respective means to best pursue our potential for the benefit of those who we serve and seek to serve.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “If we’re honest, the escalation of business volume and store traffic in 2021 came at a pace that we were not able to maintain relative to hiring, onboarding and training. Along with the other widely and rightly reported challenges faced by the sporting goods industry last year, we were too slow to address the gap that had emerged relative to pre-pandemic service levels and service levels on the backside of when our stores were required to be closed. Over the last 18 months, we’ve dedicated ourselves to the absolute best service proposition through new positions, new training programs and new requirements with new hires unlike any other time in our history. And that says a lot, as our Guest Promise leads with our commitment to this aspect of our business! Still, this award confirms that we’ve made desired progress and the high standards we set for ourselves have merit.” 


Two locations in Brooklyn, NY

Key Personnel: Matthew Rosetti and Matthew Byrne, Owners; Kate Reese, Director of Operations; Sarah Stafford, Marketing Director. Store Managers: Joe Tucker-Vikström, Daniele Sobrini, Zach Lacher, Michael Maye 

History: The Williamsburg store opened in 2013 and the Park Slope location opened in 2019.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We are New York City’s only independent running store.”

What the Award Means to Them: “Our team works day in and day out to maintain the highest standard of knowledge and customer service to runners in the NYC community. Being recognized as one of the Best Running Stores in the country acknowledges this hard work that our team prides itself on.” 

Bull City Running Co.

Southpoint Crossing, Durham, NC;  City Place, Durham, NC

Key Personnel: Kim Chapman and Jason Page, Owners

History: Established in 2008 with two locations: South Durham (2008) and Downtown Durham (2020). In September 2023, the store celebrated its 15th anniversary. In addition to being recognized as a Best Running Store in America for a number of years, Bull City Running Co. has been named the “Best Running Store in the Triangle” ( and a Great American Running Shop (Saucony). 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Bull City Running Co. is a come-as-you-are kind of running store. We support, celebrate and create space to connect with every level of athlete, regardless of age, experience, pace or personal goals. We focus on the little things, which we all know are really the big things. The things that help you get up in the morning, make your day a little brighter, set your sights a little higher, remind you that you’ve got a whole community behind you, cheering you on and lifting you up. We have always prioritized interactions over transactions by creating a culture of connection.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It is an honor and a responsibility. We have created expectations that we need to continue to uphold and exceed. This award is motivation, inspiration and validation all wrapped up in one. We thrive on being the hub of the local running community and we are proud to be a locally owned, socially responsible small business. We make a difference by being a solutions-oriented shop for runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts of all levels. Every day we exist to exceed the expectations of our customers, our community partners and our staff and to make everyone’s day a little better in the process.”


Four locations: two in Charlotte, NC; one in Mooresville, NC; one in Rock Hill, SC

Key Personnel: Owners: Scott Dvorak, Donny Forsyth, Jamie Davis, Harry Chandler, Brad Popple

History: In 2000, the Charlotte Running Company opened its doors in the historical Leeper-Wyatt Grocery store building in the South End District. It was initially a partnership between former professional distance runners Scott Dvorak and Eric Hichman (the latter departed the company in 2003). Dvorak opened a second store in South Charlotte in 2006. In 2009, Donny Forsyth joined CRC as the first brand partner with his purchase of the Promenade store in South Charlotte from Forsythe. The CRC owners group expanded in 2011 with the addition of Todd Joefreda, who partnered with Dvorak to open the Mooresville store in 2014. In 2016, Joefreda left CRC and with the purchase of both the Northlake and Mooresville locations, Jamie Davis joined the ownership group. That same year, Dvorak and Forsythe partnered to open the Riverwalk location in Rock Hill, SC. Meanwhile, Michigan native Harry Chandler moved to Charlotte to join the CRC team in 2016 and he joined the ownership group in 2022. Finally, in 2023, Brad Popple, a CRC alum, returned to join the ownership group.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our atmosphere. It feels like you just came home when you walk in. Our team, our culture, our community and our friends. It’s not just a retail space, it’s a refuge.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It means that we have met our commitment to our community and the industry by making Charlotte our priority and purpose. It feels great to know that we aren’t too far off in our endeavors and that Charlotte Running Company is making a difference.”


Eight retail locations: Annapolis, Bel Air, Columbia, Fells Point-Baltimore City, Gaithersburg, Timonium and Frederick, MD; Rehoboth Beach, DE

Key Personnel: Josh Levinson, Owner and Founder; Tom Levinson, President; Will Murdoch, Director of Events; Brian Nasuta, VP and Footwear Buyer; Ben Pickett, Regional General Manager; Kelly Maurer, Director of Training; Karma Quinn, CFO; Lauren English, Director of Marketing

History: Charm City Run was founded in 2002 by husband and wife, Josh and Kara Levinson. Since opening the first store in Timonium, the business has since expanded to include seven locations throughout Maryland and one store in Delaware. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Charm City Run was named after our hometown of Baltimore, MD, affectionately referred to by locals as Charm City. No matter how far we go from our original store location, Charm City will always have a feeling of coming home. In each of our eight store locations, at our race events and training groups, we aim to bring that nostalgia and community-oriented spirit to each and every person we serve. Making a difference is ingrained in our culture — Our Live. Give. Run. Foundation has donated over $2 million to Maryland- and Delaware-based non-profits that provide educational resources to the underserved, protect our environment and deliver physical fitness opportunities to marginalized communities.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving this award is affirmation for the Charm City Run family. Our team is extremely hard working and at times the tasks never seem to end. It is wonderful to receive great reviews from customers and support from peers, but to be recognized as a top store in the industry is another level of special. It means that the extra work, late nights, early mornings and summoning patience when there is nothing left in the tank matters. We talk about effort and attitude frequently. Being recognized as a top store is acknowledgement of effort and attitude.” 


Six Central Ohio Locations: Columbus, Dublin, Grove City, Pickerington, Powell, Westerville

Key Personnel: Matt DeLeon and Eric Furth, owners; Becca Bobo and Joey Mayo, GMs

History: Community has been the cornerstone of everything Columbus Running Company has done since opening in 2004. CRC goes beyond its six retail shops by hosting and timing races with its event management team, such as the Arnold Pump & Run where Arnold Schwarzenegger is the race starter who makes fun of the runners with their “little chicken legs.” CRC also leads adult, high school and youth running clubs and training programs and leads a packed schedule of weekly group runs while also supporting other local walking and running clubs.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Every locally owned and operated running store is unique and together we all add to the running culture throughout the country. At CRC, we play our part by hosting free community events like our Ice Cream run with Hoka and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. In the stores, it all comes down to listening to our customers and then doing everything we can to make their next mile better.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We’re always honored and humbled to be included among the stores on the Best Running Stores list.” 


Five locations in New York: Binghamton, Corning, Goshen, Lake Placid (under the Ruthie’s Run banner), Watertown

Key Personnel: Matthew Francis Gawors, CEO and Owner; Jennifer Gowers, Everything Else Officer (Buyer of Wares, Douser of Fires, Slayer of Dragons); Chris Cowden, Regional Manager

History: Confluence Running opened its first location in May 2013 in Binghamton, NY. The Corning location followed in 2018 and the Hudson Valley (Goshen) store opened in 2020. Ruthie’s Run of Lake Placid was founded in 1968 and acquired in 2021. The Watertown location opened in June 2023.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our company is unique due to our innovative business model to survive in very difficult markets as well as our innovative development of a footwear certification program called Dynamic Footwear Specialists. We hope to revolutionize our industry to reflect a more standardized and research-based knowledge base for all employees in independent and small run specialty stores. This year we hired a Licensed Physical Therapist to our staff to improve the service we provide to our customers. Our Dynamic Footwear Specialists have the opportunity to have an additional positive resource at their disposal for their professional development.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We continue to feel motivated to continue down our path of improvement. Being elected as one of the BRS provides us with great feedback that our plan is on the right track. It provides us with additional confidence for 2024.”


Four locations in northwest Ohio: Sylvania, Perrysburg, Findlay, Delta

Key Personnel: The Mason family of Delta, OH

History: After taking up running for health reasons, Dave Mason began selling high-performance shoes to runners and walkers in 1973. Today, the business encompasses four locations plus a full-service race management company, owned and run by three generations of the Mason family. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Dave’s Running supports the communities it serves by sponsoring more than 200 local events, schools and nonprofit organizations annually. In addition to operating four retail locations, we also run a full-service race management company.”

What the Award Means to Them: “Our motto, ‘Get Faster, Go Farther, Feel Better,’ guides everything we do, from in-store operations and community wellness initiatives to marathon training groups. We’re proud to be Ohio’s Original Running Shop, 50 years and counting.”


Columbia, MO

Key Personnel: Nancy Yaeger, Owner; Kathy Lee, Manager

History: Fleet Feet Columbia opened in July 2017, and a second location in Jefferson City is slated to open in December.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We take so much pride in giving exceptional customer service and making sure every customer gets individualized attention. We not only help runners, but anyone that is in need of a good fit and we work really hard on our medical referral business. Our running groups are all inclusive and we have a group for every level of runner. We want to help our community be healthy and happy and we do all we can to help.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It means so much to us. We love what we do and take pride in our exceptional customer service and really caring about our customers and their needs. We love the amazing team we have and this award is great recognition for all they do for our customers and our community.” 

Fleet Feet Davenport

Davenport, IA

Key Personnel: Phil and Jackie Young, Co-owners 

History:  Fleet Feet Davenport opened in March, 2016 in Phil’s hometown and currently has one store in the area.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We’re focused on maintaining one strong community store, employing a multitude of career-teammates, making a difference in our region. Also, we treat people well. Plenty of gadgets and gear and programs and events, but we really just try to love people first and give them something/somewhere to belong.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It serves as a barometer and helps remind us that our community values the things we’re doing and the way we’re doing them. We’re pretty focused and confident in our place and strategy here, but it’s nice to receive a different kind of feedback like this. It’s also pretty humbling to look around at the company of other recipients.”


Fayetteville, NC

Key Personnel: Neli Manova, Operating Partner; Stanley Harriman, Retail Experience Manager; Cynde Sobczak, Inventory Manager; Ashley Mitchell, Marketing Coordinator

History: Founded in 2018, Fleet Feet Fayetteville is located in the heart of Fort Liberty, one of the largest military installations in the world. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “It is the sense of community and small-town feel while maintaining the availability and accessibility of a big store. When you come in you are immediately welcomed by a familiar face and interact with someone who becomes just as invested in you and your goals as you are invested in yourself. We take pride in our customer service and commitment to helping the customer in any way possible, be it through advice and recommendations for an upcoming race, helping to combat pains they’ve been dealing with for years, or even making sure that we are able to go above and beyond for a loved one’s birthday. We are here for the community and will always stay an active portion of the community.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “This award means that the early mornings, late nights and countless hours of service to our community are not for nothing. It shows us that our community sees and feels our impact and that is the best reward we could receive. The smile on our customers’ faces and being able to see them move happier is why we all do this job and to be able to see that work come to fruition by receiving this award means the world to all of us. This award expands our abilities to provide to the local community we are so lucky to serve.” 

Fleet Feet Fort Wayne

Two stores in Fort Wayne, IN

Key Personnel: Kevin Croy, Owner; Michael Conte, Retail Experience Manager; Sara Miller, Director of Training/Coach and Activities Coordinator; Maggie Croy, Shoe and Apparel Buyer/Director of Marketing.

History: Kevin, Jeanice and Maggie Croy brought the franchise to the Fort Wayne Market over 10 years ago. In 2022 they expanded to a second location in North Fort Wayne. Kevin and Jeanice have been the original owners since its inception. Ten years ago when Fort Wayne was voted the Fattest City in America by a national publication, they felt that there was a need for store to help their community live a healthier lifestyle and Fleet Feet Fort Wayne was born.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “First thing is our involvement in the community — applying our core values in everything we do and placing people first and taking pride in serving others. We empower our staff and management to always do what is in the best interest of our community and our patrons. We want our staff to be passionate and love what they do and make every action and moment count. For example, if we host a National Running Day event let’s own that day, which is why Fleet Feet Fort Wayne had one of the largest National Running Day events in the country with our Big Run 5K. Second thing is that we make sure that when working with the public that the approach is it is never about us, it should always be about them. Our focus and interest is always in favor of the customer or runner. We want to know what they are training for, what their goals are, what their needs are.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We feel blessed and fortunate to have been included with so many other  great running stores. It is very humbling for us to once again be chosen. We realize that it is a team effort. It reaffirms that we are on the right path and have been diligent to sticking with our core values. This honor encourages us to never take anything for granted and to always strive to be better each and every year for our community and our customers.”


Two locations: Fleet Feet Huntsville in Huntsville, AL; Fleet Feet Madison in Madison, AL

Key Personnel: Suzanne Swift, Owner; Jamie Morrow, General Manager; Alan Taylor, Inventory Manager; Diana Cioppi, Triathlon Training Director and Apparel Buyer; Donna Ruiz, Essentials Buyer; May Gillespie, Marketing Director; Skylor Taylor, Footwear Buyer, Huntsville; Danyy Paz, Manager, Madison

History: Fleet Feet Huntsville will celebrate its 20th anniversary in January. The store opened in 2004 after race directing one of the largest 50K events in the Southeast. A second location opened in Madison, AL, in March 2021. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our community involvement is all over North Alabama. We are committed to over 100 events a year, from races to walks and pub runs, with most benefiting a charity. We also race direct races ourselves that benefit local charities. This keeps us out and serving the community every weekend.”

What the Award Means to Them: “Someone once told me, ‘Don’t do things for awards,’ but it’s always nice to be recognized for our commitment to the running community. My team has been through a lot with COVID, a new store and community changes. It’s great that their hard work is appreciated and recognized by others.” 

Fleet Feet Montclair

Montclair, NJ  

Key Personnel: John and Dawn Fabbro, Owners; a dedicated staff of 25-ish and a leadership team including their three daughters Chelsea, Director of Fun; Madeline, Director of Marketing and Events; Emilia, Director of Operations/Apparel, Accessory Buyer/Merchandiser; Paul Giuliano, Retail Experience Manager/Training Program Coach; Mary Spink, Director of Purchasing/Shoe Buyer/Training Program Coach; Bill VanTreuren, Billy on the Bills – Office Manager; Axel Arroyo, Operations Manager/Jack of All Trades

History: Founded in November of 1987, Fleet Feet Montclair was the second Fleet Feet location east of Lake Tahoe.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We’re entering our 36th year in business and hold true to the belief that Running Changes Everything. That everything has included sharing in the success of our customers’ and training program participants’ personal journeys, having a profitable business that bolsters our local economy, recognizing our responsibility for charitable giving and being part of the run specialty channel that creates positive change nationally and worldwide. We continue to move forward: left foot, right foot, adjusting the pace as needed. We know full well that we do not do this alone. We are a Best Running Store because of the knowledge, creativity and energy that our staff and the running community bring us each and every day.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It takes a lot of grit, hard work and dedication to stay relevant year-after-year. To be recognized alongside other exceptional brick-and-mortar run specialty stores is a humbling honor. These are the people who know what it takes day-in-and-day-out to serve and innovate, to be confident in our work and open to continually grow.”


Six locations in the Nashville, TN, area: Brentwood, Green Hills, Hendersonville, Murfeesboro, Mt. Juliet and Franklin

Key Personnel: Christi Beth Adams, Owner and Operator; plus a team of approximately 130 incredible folks

History: Fleet Feet Nashville continues to expand and will boast six locations in late 2023. The Brentwood store was founded in 2002, followed by Green Hills in 2013 and Hendersonville in 2017. In October 2023 Fleet Feet Murfeesboro (founded in 2007) and Fleet Feet Mt. Juliet (founded in 2016) were acquired, and a new store in Franklin was slated to open in November.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “I don’t say this to discredit our team, but I give the same answer each year — I’m not sure that what we do is so unique. I think run shops around the country are filled with really amazing and caring humans who find a ton of joy in serving others and helping them move more comfortably. We love each other, our customers and our community and we care deeply and we show that through our words and actions.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “Everyone on our team loves to serve others, so sometimes it can be weird to be awarded for something that comes so naturally, something that can be considered a ‘calling’ for people. That said, I believe affirmation is a human desire we all have, so receiving this award means so much to our team, to know that what they do matters enough for our customers to nominate us each year.” 


Three locations: Rochester, Victor and Buffalo, NY and

Key Personnel: Ellen Brenner and David “Boots” Boutillier, Owners: Barb Boutillier, GM

History: Ellen and Boots opened Fleet Feet Rochester in July, 2004 while growing their event company, YellowJacket Racing. Fleet Feet Buffalo was purchased in November 2014, and Fleet Feet Victor opened in September 2019. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “A few things make us unique, including our main location at the Armory, a 9000-square-foot store that offers a community and gallery space to use for special events, workshops, clinics and expos. Our training programs are a good size and incorporate everyone from walkers to half-marathoners. We also own an event production company, YellowJacket Racing, that produces upwards of 50 events per year. Between our retail, training programs and events we call this our triad where each relies on the other to perform and customers can utilize each arm of the triad to suit their needs.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “This is an incredible recognition, especially for our staff who are working side by side with customers every day. It shows that the work they do is valuable, important and done very well. We all take great pride in being acknowledged as one of the Best Running Stores. It is also extremely appreciated because there are many great stores out there and to be noted as one of the top shops is very special.”


West Reading, PA

Key Personnel: Sorita Averill, Owner and Founder; Jason Corby, GM; Craig Richards, Retail Experience Manager; Adriane Hoke, Apparel Manager; Thomas Joyce, Marketing Manager

History: Sorita Averill is the founder and owner of Fleet Feet West Reading. She opened the store in 2004, then called A Running Start, to realize her dream of providing a service-oriented shop where runners of all ages and abilities could find shoes, technical apparel and accessories to meet their needs. A Running Start joined the Fleet Feet family in 2018.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our staff and their commitment to personalized service, customer satisfaction and community involvement makes our store unique. People seek us out because they have heard from friends, colleagues or family members that we are the best at fitting shoes and because we take the time to listen to customers and address their specific needs. Most of our customers are not runners and are looking for solutions to their problems. We take pride in going above and beyond for older customers who are looking for pain relief and stability. We equip nurses and medical professionals with sneakers and insoles to help them feel more comfortable and less fatigued while they are helping others. We help customers find shoes that allow them to begin a fitness program of walking. We have expanded our store and added a community room for our workshops that include free physical therapy consultations, sport psychology, strength training, yoga for runners and intro to trail running, along with many demo runs. We also host wine and apparel pairings and customer appreciation parties yearly.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It means the world to us. Being recognized for something that we love to do is very rewarding and makes us want to continue to grow our impact in our community. It demonstrates that our customers and community value our services and love us back (by nominating us and writing nice reviews).”


Bend, OR

Key Personnel: Brian Lord, Owner; Thomas Morgan, Director of Operations and Buyer; Colleen Moyer, General Manager. Managers: Colton Gale, Chris Erxleben

History: Founded in May 1995.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “A downtown location in a tourist town makes our customer mix quite varied, so we must remain adaptable to meet and exceed the expectations of everyone that walks in. Our trail shoe selection and knowledge set us apart from typical run specialty, carrying models and brands trail runners can try nowhere else.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We set a very high bar for ourselves in every area of the business and this award is validation that our hard work is translating to success in our community and industry.” 


Seven locations in Michigan: Grand Rapids (two), Kalamazoo, Holland, Northville, Birmingham, Grandville

Key Personnel: Jen Brummitt, CEO; Christian Renoux, COO; Cara Cross, CMO; Angie Conflitti, Director of Purchasing; John Korreck, Director of Warehouse Operations; Thomas Kessel, Director of Technology. Regional Stores Managers: Joe Trupp, Alyssa Davison, Aleksandra Dalton

History: Gazelle Sports opened its first store in Kalamazoo in 1985. Today, nearly 40 years and seven locations later, the company has grown, along with its passion for giving back to its communities and helping everyone in them live active, healthy lives. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We are known for our exceptional and genuine care, extensive product knowledge, authentic, expert advice, personalized shoe fittings and undying support. But what truly sets us apart is our firm belief that movement can change your life and our passion therefore is in helping people move. We also recognize and are intentional about prioritizing equity and access both for our customers and our team members. We are actively and intentionally engaged in DE&I work and apply that lens in our strategic decision-making.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We are very humbled by this award and are grateful to be able to share it with a team that wholeheartedly believes in what we’re trying to build — a team that cares deeply about our customers, our communities and each other. This award inspires us all to ‘keep moving’ as we like to say — keep working toward not only being a different kind of running store, but also making a difference.” 


Two locations: Richmond Hill and St. Simons, GA

Key Personnel: John Cameron, Owner, Richmond Hill: Zach Fitzgerald, Manager; Kevin Hancock, Assistant Manager, St. Simons: Braden Colbert, Manager; Tara Baraniak, Assistant Manager; Ana Colber, Social Channels Manager 

History: Georgia Game Changers was founded in 2012. There are currently two locations and sites have been chosen for two additional locations to come in 2024. The business is deeply rooted in the local running and racing circuit and hosts weekly runs and training opportunities that include mobility workouts, nutrition and training forums. The staff has decades of experience from Ironman to Ultra and everything in between. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We are very active in our community and we stock a deep selection of great shoe brands, a wide assortment of accessories, apparel and nutrition, but what we really believe sets us apart is our team. We can’t stress enough how important team culture is and we invest heavily in it. We love what we do and have a blast doing it. Our guests feel this when they shop with us. After all, people have many choices when it comes to shopping for running gear, so we believe the added investment in our team makes all the difference.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We are humbled by our selection. There are a lot of great running stores and it is an honor to be included with those that go the extra mile to better our industry. It is also a validation of the hard work we put into our company. We appreciate it very sincerely.” 


Katy, TX

Key Personnel: Steve Brammer, Sarah Priest, Nick Waak and Andrea White, Partners/Owners

History: This 2000-square-foot store opened in October, 2017 and is celebrating its sixth anniversary. The partners had all worked together previously at another running store for 10 years and were happy to branch off and open their own place. The staff has grown from five employees to 15. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We have been working with what some may say is a disadvantage because we don’t carry all of the major shoe brands. This is not by choice, but it is a situation that we feel we have handled with grace, grit and determination. We are forever grateful to the brands that have supported us and we thoroughly enjoy educating our consumers on some brands that they otherwise would never have known about. Another fun thing that sets us apart is that we like to feed people. Over the years, we have purchased several flat top grills and we have a Pancake Breakfast a few times a year, we grill burgers for Global Running Day (and make it a potluck, everyone brings a side dish) and Breakfast Tacos for 2000 runners as they come through our store with the Texas Independence Relay. We have happy bellies around here.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “This award is a validation of the work that each and every team member puts forth on the daily. We realize that there are many options for our customers and are appreciative of their love and support. Being included in the same group with the Best of the Best among our peers and in our industry is an honor that we never take for granted.” 


Savannah, GA

Key Personnel: Phillip Howe, Owner; Pamela Howe, Co-owner; Marc Cameron, GM

History: Howe2Run was founded in 2020 and just celebrated its four-year anniversary in August. Currently located in Savannah, GA, Howe2Run initially opened at its original location in Hinesville, GA, in March of 2019. The store was only open for three weeks before suffering fire damage due to an arson attempt on the business adjacent. The Howe’s were devastated and had to rebuild at the store’s current location in Savannah. Shortly after celebrating its one-year anniversary, COVID-19 hit; however, that could not knock Howe2Run down on its knees again. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Two things that make us one of the best running stores is our Specialized Fit Process that we provide for every customer. Every customer is put through a physical screening as our fit specialist discusses with them their running needs. We are not just a grab-a-shoe-and-go operation and we do not push brands. We also are here to provide various strength and stretching programs following our assessment. We provide a welcoming atmosphere once the customer walks through the door, and our saying is, ‘you provide the goal, and we will help you attain it!’ Our facility is a hub for Team RWB, local run clubs and medical nights for sports medicine professionals and physical therapists.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It means that our hard work to set a standard of staying true to the run specialty model has paid off. We also are honored that the person or persons that came as the secret shopper had the experience that we feel our store stands for. As the owner it also makes me feel very proud that the employee did what was expected of them during that process. We are also humbled and honored to be recognized alongside so many other great stores.”


Three locations in San Antonio, TX: Stone Oak, Bitters, Dominion

Key Personnel: Michele and Mitch Allen, Owners; Kelly Wetzel, Director of Retail; Jess Winnett, Director of Operations; Tina Berry, Manager, Stone Oak

History: In the beginning, there was Michele and Mitch Allen. They loved running and each other (not necessarily in that order). The two met on the running trails in Dallas and got married in 2003, surrounded by their running friends. In 2009 they moved to San Antonio where they opened iRun Texas at the Stone Oak location. Each having some 40 years of running experience, they shared knowledge and passion with their customers while providing a place for runners to connect. The Allens then opened a second iRun location at Bitters in 2012 and a third store in the Dominion area in 2015.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “iRun Texas distinguishes itself through the expertise of our extensively trained staff. Our team is adept at assisting a diverse clientele, ranging from highly skilled marathon runners to individuals embarking on fitness endeavors. Many of our staff members have been with the stores for close to a decade, showcasing a profound dedication to their craft. We prioritize creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, inviting customers to seek guidance, pose inquiries and receive tailored assistance. Our credibility is evidenced not by our remarks, but by the sentiments expressed in our Google reviews. Fundamentally, our ethos is centered on a profound passion for running and a genuine desire to serve the community.”

What the Award Means to Them: “Receiving the Best Running Store Award for 10 consecutive years is a highly honorable achievement for both iRun Texas and our devoted staff. This recognition, sourced from our community’s endorsement, stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to excellence and the diligent effort we invest in serving the local running community. The award serves as validation for the daily dedication exhibited across our three locations and it affirms that our collective efforts to provide exceptional service to our customers not only meets expectations, but consistently exceeds them. This motivates us to reach even higher levels of excellence. Notably, the award significantly boosts the morale of our staff, reinforcing their belief in the meaningful contributions they make. It instills a deep sense of pride and further propels them to deliver exceptional service, with the knowledge that their efforts are being recognized and celebrated.”

John’s Run/Walk Shop

Two stores in Lexington, KY

Key Personnel: Melody Marshall, Owner; Riley Marshall, GM; Kellen Ague-Kneeland, Running Shoe Buyer; Reace Marshall, Comfort Shoe Buyer; Matt Reno, Marketing & Events Director; Garrett Hadaway, Race Director

History: In 1978, John’s Run/Walk Shop opened its doors to give Central Kentuckians a more convenient place to buy the right shoes for their specific needs. Starting in 2002, John’s Run/Walk Shop expanded its level of quality and expertise to leather shoes. John’s Run/Walk Shop has always been a family-run business. In 2015, when original owner John Sensenig was ready to step back, he made sure to put the shop in trusted hands. Melody Marshall, John’s longtime accountant and a runner since age 12, now owns the business and works to maintain the aspects of the store that have made it a staple of the Lexington community.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “John’s Run/Walk Shop is independently owned and operated. We do what we do – and we do it well — all by ourselves, without input from a corporation or franchise. This means we find our own vendors, build our own relationships, design our own stores, put together our own employee benefits and have our own methods for every single aspect of our business. This allows us to do these things better than any chain or online store ever will because we know Lexington. We’ve been here for 45 years, giving us generations of input into how we can be the best part of Lexington that we can be. That’s what makes us special and allows us to stand out without ever being replicated. Sure, it means a hell of a lot more work. But it’s worth it if it means better serving our community.”

What the Award Means to Them: “This award means validation that doing the right thing matters. Supporting your local community, spending more time with customers to ensure they have the right product, refusing to cut corners — these take more effort and dedication. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Being in business for 45 years and being recognized as a Best Running Store will hopefully serve as inspiration to other businesses that putting customers and community first is the best way to run a business.”


Mystic, CT

Key Personnel: Jeff Anderson, Owner; Mary Sutton, Buyer

History: Kelley’s Pace is now celebrating its 45th anniversary. It all began when John and Jessie Kelley began selling shoes and other items out of the back of their car at races and shortly thereafter they founded the store in 1978.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Kelley’s Pace is more than a running store. Founded by John Kelley (1957 Boston marathon winner), our past is historic but we are still making history every day. Our founder was a humble soul who accomplished great things. We find that to be a true source of inspiration that any one of us can make history. Every day we continue to champion the spirit of personal service, making Kelley’s Pace a resource for everyone, no exceptions. As a running retailer, we take pride in helping our customers reach their health and fitness goals, whether it’s training for a local race or going for a walk. We dedicate ourselves to providing unrivaled personal attention. For us it’s not about selling products, it’s about working together, loving what we do and serving the community.”

What the Award Means to Them: “Winning this award reaffirms our core belief that if you take care of the customer and your community, the rest will all work out.” 


Four locations in Virginia: one store each in Midlothian and Fredericksburg and two in Richmond

Key Personnel: Family-owned and operated: Jesse and Desiree Van Horn and their children, Alexis and Cedric Wilson (owners in training). Managers: Caleb Eckerd, Levi Rees, Travis Vonderhaar, Chris Badolato, Rachel King (Apparel/Accessories Buyer), Gabby Postma

History: The business started in 2012 with the Midlothian location and quickly grew to four stores. Willow Lawn (Richmond) opened in 2014 followed by Fredericksburg in 2016 and Carytown (Richmond) in 2022. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our store is unique because of our approach with our clients. We want to get to know them and meet them wherever they are on their journey of health and happiness. We focus on training our staff to be good listeners and approach each client as unique and an opportunity to make sure they leave happier than they arrive. We do this by building relationships with our clients. Our staff is diverse and we hire people from all backgrounds and activity levels. We are very pleased that quite a few of our employees have been with us for many years. One comment we hear from our clients is that we hire amazing people.”

What the Award Means to Them: “Each day we strive to be the best we can be. To be recognized for our hard work means a lot. We are all competitive people, so with or without the award we would never give up trying to be the best run specialty store in Virginia. Of course, it feels good to say we are among the top running stores in the country. Our team deserves this award!” 


Four locations in Naperville, IL: NRC North, NRC South, NRC Wheaton, NRC Annex

Key Personnel: Kris Hartner, Owner; Nick Hird, Director of Operations; Kyle Brady, Director of Retail; Marisa Hird, Director of Culture and Marketing; Dan O’Keefe, General Manager. All also comprise the buying team. 

History: The business was founded in 2000 in downtown Naperville. NRC South opened in 2014, followed by NRC Wheaton in 2017 and NRC Annex in 2019.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We hear customers every day thank us, ‘You don’t get customer service like this anymore!’ The connections we make with our customers are so special, it is what keeps people coming back. Our Annex location is something that might set us apart from other stores — curating opportunities for both brand experiences and offering discounted products when we aren’t hosting a pop-up. This year, we have had a full calendar of pop-up shops (Puma, On, Hoka and Brooks), which have created even stronger partnerships and retail and marketing opportunities for both us and our vendors. The concept of the Annex is to foster more opportunities for customers and create more reach in our community — it’s an extension of the extraordinary staff and customer service with products at discounted prices.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “To be recognized by our community who we so deeply care about is truly the best compliment we can receive. Working retail isn’t easy, but we can all agree that the pros massively outweigh the cons. But more importantly, how lucky are we to absolutely love what we do, despite the headaches and struggles? Between amazing, like-minded coworkers and this incredible running community, there is nowhere else I’d rather be and I know our staff feels the same way.” 

Pacers Running

Five locations in Alexandria, VA; Washington DC

Key Personnel: Chris Farley, President; Kathy Dalby, CEO; Kelly O’Cadiz, COO

History: Pacers Running was founded in 1991 in Alexandria, VA. Pacers Running has grown to five brick-and-mortar locations, a robust online business and an events business. Pacers Running has a dynamic community base with hundreds of runners weekly at its Pacers Social events.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “The runner is the center of gravity in all we do. We pride ourselves in providing best-in-class service and create an environment for our employees to help people every day through running — whether on the floor, at our events or at our runs.”

What the Award Means to Them: “Our team is fanatical about helping as many people as possible through running. Whether that is a fitting on the bench, creating a 5K program for new runners or volunteering at any one of our events, our team prides themselves in supporting others. Having recognition from the industry is humbling and an award our team is very proud to accept.”


Four locations in the Philadelphia, PA area: Center City, University City, Glen Mills, Manayunk

Key Personnel: Ross Martinson, Owner; Liz Pagonis, CMO; Michael Zabrodski, VP–Operations. Buyers: Jenn Collins, Daryl Santiago. Managers: Declan Walkush, Tracy Davis, Jessica Frame, Ryan Fennelly

History: Philadelphia Runner opened its first store in 2004 and has since expanded to four shops in the greater Philadelphia area. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “The people! The community is our starting line and finding ways to support and grow an active, healthy community is our focus. From our amazing team to our incredible community, our stores are built on the idea that working out can and should be fun — and it’s always more fun to run, walk and work out together. Our mission is to keep folks moving comfortably from where they are now to where they want to go. In addition to hosting group runs, training programs and community events, we bring together the best staff, brands, products and resources to provide the highest level of customer experience and service.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We always tell our staff and community that nothing we do would be possible without them. This award is a reflection of our team’s hard work and the support from our community, especially throughout the last few years. We are honored and thankful to be recognized along with so many wonderful stores.” 


Okemos, MI

Key Personnel: Brian Jones, Tom Keenoy, Lindsey Mulder, Jake Crowe, Andy Marsh, Carlie Beatty

History: Rooted in the Greater Lansing community, runner and visionary Curt Munson purchased Playmakers in 1981. In 2002, the store moved to its current location in Okemos. Now celebrating 42 years in business, Playmakers continues to operate as a single-door store and has also developed into an omni-channel retailer. The business is now led by a combination of second- and third-generation ownership.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “As a single-door store with more than 30,000-square feet, we are in a unique position. We have our entire staff (numbering approximately 130) working under one roof. We are cross-trained to work the sales floor, with our owners, buyers and mangers consistently working floor shifts. We believe this provides a unique opportunity that really cultivates our store culture —  one team, with the customer being our priority. Our space also provides us the opportunity to have all our inventory in one spot. This has allowed our e-commerce opportunities to expand while benefiting our local in-store customer with a wider selection of options. Our e-commerce success has also allowed us to directly give back to our community, staff and industry.”

What the Award Means to Them: “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 giving our customers an outstanding experience in-store and online is so important to us. We look forward to the opportunity to grow, learn, listen and evolve over the next year.”

Point 2 Running Company

Chesapeake, VA; Newport News, VA 

Key Personnel: Glenn Moschler, Co-owner; Andrea Lehmkuhler, Co-owner and GM; Ruthie Cruz, Newport News Store Manager; Logan St. John, E-Commerce Manager and Buyer; Alex Koksal, Chesapeake Store Manager

History: Point 2 was founded in May 2011 in a modest shop that was formerly a Ritz camera store. This family-owned business (Glenn and Andrea are father and daughter) with deep roots in the community began to flourish and in Fall 2015 moved to a new, larger location. As the team grew so did the business and with that came the opportunity to serve a larger community. In the Summer 2019 Point 2 opened a second location in Chesapeake, VA.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Firstly, and without a doubt — our team. We take pride in our dedicated staff who consistently provide exemplary customer service. They approach every customer, whether a beginner or a seasoned runner, with the same enthusiasm and encouragement. Secondly, we are committed to growth. We continually strive for improvement. This commitment drives us to invest in technology, update our stores and re-invest in our team.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We are deeply honored. This award represents the continual support we receive from our community on a daily basis. Furthermore, we are thrilled to be recognized amongst so many other wonderful stores.”

=PR= Run & Walk

Locations: 10 locations: Nine in northern Virginia and one in Midlothian, VA 

Key Personnel: Ray and Cathy Pugsley, Co-owners; Scott Razco, Head of Operations

History: This year is Potomac River Running’s 20-year anniversary. It was founded in 2003 with one store in Ashburn, VA, and it now has 10 locations and an online store. PRR also puts on numerous community races and training programs. When the store opened in 2003, its goal was to share a passion for a healthy, active lifestyle with the community. Coinciding with its anniversary, the stores rebranded from Potomac River Running to =PR= Run & Walk to make sure that its name and branding fully demonstrate its commitment to serving a diverse community.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “One area of our business that we feel makes us a Best Running Store is our involvement in the community. Over the past 20 years we have been able to facilitate relationships with local schools and businesses, medical professionals and charities. We are extremely proud of our relationships with local middle and high schools. Each track and cross-country season we host team nights that give us a chance to help athletes get fit for trainers and spikes and also allow the kids to have a fun evening. Each team is enrolled in our school give-back program. Any time someone shops with us and mentions their local school, we give back $5 to the school at the end of the season. Another community passion of ours is sharing with local medical professionals the importance of high-quality footwear and how our shoe fitting process can help their patients. We host doctors’ nights throughout the year where medical professionals can come test out our fitting process.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It is such an honor to be considered one of the top running stores. Our staff works hard every day to serve our customers and receiving this award is one way for us to show them that their hard work truly pays off in our community.”


Five locations in the Pittsburgh, PA, area that encompass four run shops and one bike-only store. The run shops are located in Monroeville, Allison Park, Robinson Township and Pittsburgh.

Key Personnel: Craig Cozza, Owner, Founder and CEO; Jordan Cherry, GM; Becky Johnson, Buyer/Inventory Manager. Run Managers: Susie Albert, Edna Sprang, Chris Cain, Stewart Jones

History: In 2008, Craig Cozza, a local real estate developer and entrepreneur, took over the faltering Pittsburgh Pro Bikes to continue its legacy of serving Pittsburgh’s regional cycling community. After purchasing Elite Runners and Walkers in 2016 after franchising with them since 2011, Pro Bike+Run now operates five stores surrounding the Pittsburgh area. Cozza and his team continue their community focus by supporting and funding many cycling, running and walking charitable initiatives and strives to run, organize and participate in 180-plus community-driven and charitable events every year. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We offer an entire experience. We want everyone who comes into our stores to feel like they received the best possible service and believe that we are their go-to for running and fitness needs. Our staff all have varying years of experience in running and are well-equipped to help every runner, from beginners to experts. Our shops include top-of-the-line shoe fit and gait analysis technology, including the Aetrex Albert Pro, and only the best possible shoe options from top brands. Our North Park [Allison Park] shop includes a cafe and clubhouse area within the same building that offers the perfect spot for runners to meet before and after their runs. We want to provide spaces for community building and connection. We offer quarterly events in our shops to connect more with our customers, provide helpful advice, help people find the best products and help the running community come together. Our newest location in the [Pittsburgh] Strip District houses a restaurant and 390-person event space.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It is a reflection of what we do for our community. We want to be a place for runners of all levels, providing services and products that set us apart from an online or big-box experience. Everyone that works in our shops knows how our customers feel, have been beginners, have been customers, have received similar services throughout their running careers and want to meet our customers where they are in their fitness journeys. This award is an honor to receive, but it is also encouragement to continue working hard and providing the best possible service and experience for customers and the running community.” 


Two locations in Oklahoma: Oklahoma City, Edmond

Key Personnel: Jon and Burke Beck, Founders. Leadership Team: Josh Lacan, John Oseland, Jen Pruitt, Luis Chavez, Jenny Broad, Katy Long

History: Red Coyote Running and Fitness was founded in 2010 in Oklahoma City. The store was named after the founders’ dog, Pancho. Since 2010, Red Coyote has grown exponentially and now has two locations and more than 35 employees. The retailer also produces eight races totaling over 7000 runners and trains more than 2500 people through its training programs each year. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Red Coyote was founded to inspire people in its community to move, connect and be healthy. The Red Coyote brand has made such an impact that 13 runners actually have the logo tattooed on their bodies. One thing that makes Red Coyote unique is that when runners wear our logo, they are often stopped all over the world to share a connection with other runners.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “Red Coyote has won Top 50 or BRS for 14 years in a row. This award is proof that the Red Coyote team strives to give every customer a life changing experience.” 


Two Connecticut locations: Ridgefield Running Company, Ridgefield; Darien Running, Darien

Key Personnel: Megan Searfoss, Owner and Founder; Danny Jagoe, Footwear PLM; Cat Granskog, Apparel PLM

History: Founded in 2014, Ridgefield Running Company – the winner of the 2022 Store of the Year – is a woman-led business that serves Fairfield County, CT, and Westchester County, NY. In 2020 in the midst of COVID, Darien Running Company opened and serves communities along the I-95 corridor. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “The premise of ‘Happy Feet, Happy Life’ is core to our business. We believe that if you can learn about a customer’s needs you can outfit them in the gear that will help them move forward comfortably, from ultra-running to simply standing comfortably. We have a huge focus on community, from runs to give-backs, and we are always trying to introduce movement to people.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “The team works very hard and this recognition means a lot. It is a source of pride for all of them and makes for great conversation on the fit stool. They earned it and deserve it.” 

Run Flagstaff

Flagstaff, AZ; Sedona, AZ;;

Key Personnel: Run Flagstaff was founded in 2007 by Vince and Sarah Sherry.

History: In 2007, Vince and Sarah Sherry started what was initially “A Runners High,” which eventually became Run Flagstaff today. Fast forward over 10 years and they expanded to open a second shop in Sedona, called Run Sedona. More recently, they launched Flagstaff Shoebox, a casual shoe store in Flagstaff.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Things that really make our store stand out are our team and our connection with the community. Our team is deeply rooted in the local community and they genuinely care about what’s happening around town and how they can contribute. Moreover, our team is a mix of runners, ranging from beginners to professional athletes. This diversity ensures that every customer who walks in gets a personal experience from someone who gets their needs and can relate to their running journey.”

What the Award Means to Them: “This award means the world to us. We’ve been working towards it for many years now. We’ve always believed that we offer top-notch service that could possibly be recognized nationally, but we were just a bit short of the mark. Over the last couple of years, we’ve put in considerable effort to fine-tune even the smallest details so that every customer walking through our doors gets an A+ experience from every one of our staff members. This award is the result of the hard work and dedication our staff members have poured into serving our community.”


Eugene, OR

Key Personnel: Dustin Pearce, Owner/GM; Kris Pearce, Owner/Accounting; Lillie Schrock, Store Manager/Accessory Buyer; Lauren Moe, Marketing Manager; Jack Matherly, Footwear Manager

History: Run Hub opened its doors in downtown Eugene in May 2015 during Eugene Marathon Weekend. The store is located about 1.5 miles from the University of Oregon and the famous Hayward Field.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Run Hub is built on two primary cornerstones: providing an awesome customer experience and building community through our events, activities, training programs and club. It’s debatable if that makes us unique in the industry, but we do those things really well. Otherwise, to use a baseball term — we are a good utility player as a run specialty store. While we may not top the charts in any one area, we excel at the basics and do many things well, which make us a valuable asset to our customers and community.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We appreciate the chance to get a report card each year from our customers and industry. The BRS award gives us that opportunity. Are we good enough to continue to have people nominate us? Will we hit the mark when we are secret shopped? How will we compare to other stores? The BRS award is a valuable tool and yearly reminder to get shipshape and make sure we are making the grade to be one of the best in our industry.” 


Orem, UT

Key Personnel: Hawk and Cheryl Harper, Owners; Christian Allen, GM; Jaxon Lombardi, Assistant Manager

History: Runner’s Corner was founded by Hawk and Cheryl Harper in 1991 and remains family-run and family-owned. Runner’s Corner was also the birthplace of Altra running shoes. Before Altra running shoes came onto the scene, Runner’s Corner zero dropped many shoes for customers. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We sell an experience and not just products. We value educating our employees so that they are able to execute gate analysis, give our customers the proper tips for fueling when racing and training, along with helping customers overcome and avoid injuries. We are also unique in the sense that we help educate our customers and provide them with options instead of just giving a solution or product to buy.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We strive to earn this award every year. We always want our staff to be educated so they can provide an experience that will keep our customers coming back. We pride ourselves on our customer experience and strive to hire the best employees and provide the best training so we can achieve this goal.” 


Two New York locations: Farmingdale and Huntington

Key Personnel: Bob Cook and Sue Cook, Owners; Allison Cook Galante, Apparel and Accessories Buyer, Social Media Marketing Manager; Kaitlin Dello Iacano, Events Marketing Coordinator. Managers/Shoe Buyers: Paul Curtis, Griselle Delgado. Long-Term Staff (15 to 38 years): Gary Paperno, Nancy Cattabiani, Dave Frazer, Craig Gluf

History: The first location opened in 1985 in the heart of Farmingdale Village in New York. In April 2021, a second store opened in Huntington. When the  owner started, he was doing anything he could to grow the business, including working by himself in the store for four months and selling shoes out of his truck at races. Since then, Runner’s Edge NY has worked diligently by advertising at events, handing out flyers and introducing themselves and their services at races, track meets and gyms. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We just celebrated our 38th year in business in April. Our owner still comes in five days a week and is very actively involved, as are his family. We have a very special family feel to our store and we hope that we can keep that feeling for years to come. Some of our staff are local running coaches, which really helps connect the community. We work with several local running clubs, race directors, coaches, doctors, gyms and running teams and we try to give back in any way we can. We donate to several races and charities and we love to work with our local community. We host runs from our store each week to bring people together and we usually tie in a local business for support. We go to local high school running meets and set up a mini shop on the go. We love to do informational clinics and we also have our own running/triathlon team that consists of 150-plus members.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We are super excited to be receiving this because we have strived to be the best we can be for 38 years. Customer service is our priority and our goal with every customer is to make sure they have a great experience and feel they are leaving our store with the best running shoes for their feet. As a small, local company we really try to do the best we can because today you can easily buy online. Winning this award feels like we have been training for our own race and are finally receiving our own medal at a very special finish line.”


Lakewood, CO

Key Personnel: Sonya Estes-Alderman, President and Founder; Chris Alderman, VP. Managers: Joel Hamilton, Amanda Schwarz, Josh Pierantoni. Other key personnel: Lisa Mills, Luke Meyers, Trent Cochran, Isaac Wagner, Ryan Parker, Jen Byrne, Chase Deutchman, Alex Holm, Rachel Hebaus

History: This family-owned store was founded in 2003 by mother-daughter team Sonya Estes and Wanda Stevens.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our customers. Since we live in Colorado, we have the opportunity to carry a lot of road shoes, but also we are very invested in trail running and an outdoor lifestyle. Our customers have such a wide range of needs and it has allowed us to carry some amazing brands that represent specialty running and outdoor. We are lucky to have such a lifestyle-driven community.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. This award means so much to us and our community. It shows that [we] are committed to fitness, a healthy lifestyle and a growing need for a community. We are so thankful for all our loyal customers and the business we have had over the last 20 years. We are excited to serve Colorado and the wonderful people who embrace running and fitness.” 

Running Etc.

Norfolk, VA; Virginia Beach, VA

Key Personnel: Mike and Pam Robinson, Owners; Mark Manny, Beach Shop Manager; John Lomogda, Norfolk Shop Manager; Shannon Ralston, Apparel and Merchandising Manager; Andrew Hoffer, Product Manager; Emily Spencer, Website and Product Manager; Carol Dalton, Nutrition Manager

History: Running Etc. in Norfolk was founded in 1986 by Mike Robinson. In 1996 Norfolk Running Etc. moved to its current 4000-square-foot location. A second store located in Virginia Beach opened in 2004 and six years later it was moved to a bigger, 5000-square-foot space. This location includes a 600-square-foot community room where lectures, clinics, race packet pick-ups and running-oriented events are held.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our combined years of experience in the sport are what truly set us apart. Together we have been running for 265 years, which is a lot of miles covered, training methods tested, races run and energy gels tasted. While we take pride in our comprehensive product selection, our greatest joy is applying our knowledge in order to connect with our customers and help them pursue and achieve their running goals. The relationships we’ve built with our customers, coaches, race organizers, physicians and brand partners truly sets us apart. We don’t really identify as salespeople, though undeniably we are selling gear. At the root of it, we’re just runners geeking out with our fellow runners and we’re grateful that has translated to so many friendships and happy feet over the years.”

What the Award Means to Them: “This recognition affirms that we are operating our business in a way that resonates with our community and our industry. For 37 years, we’ve helped individuals pursue and achieve their goals, whether it is in athletics or life. We are thrilled to receive this award for our team because they give 100 percent to everyone they meet and this is a wonderful way to show them their dedication and caring ways are being recognized. It is the community that surrounds us that has given us this recognition with their votes. This award renews that sense of our connection to our community, and our commitment to serve as we have all these years.”


Saint Louis, MO

Key Personnel: Bob Dyer and Jennifer Henderson, Co-owners; Sarah White, Operations Manager

History: The store, located in the heart of the city of St. Louis, opened in May 2018. In March 2022, due to growth, the shop relocated to its current location that offered twice the space. In September Running Niche increased its space by another 1000-square feet.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our level of focus on running. Of course, a portion of our customers are not runners and we love helping them. But we really are all about running. We have a huge passion for running, training, racing, running community and Team Running Niche. Being in business for five years has given us time to find out what makes us love our work every day. And it is running and runners. Our knowledge of products, fitting, Lydiard training, a great place to run or get a beer and a burger makes our store a fun, informative running home for locals and visitors alike.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It’s very flattering to earn this award along with so many great running stores. We are very proud of our team and our operations manager, Sarah, as well as our part-time team members. It reminds us we are doing meaningful work to help people improve their health and well-being through running and walking. It also affirms and reinforces that we are building our community and business in a positive way and that the coaching we do makes a difference. In short, it tells us to keep doing what we are doing.” 


Two locations: Pensacola, FL; Fairhope, AL

Key Personnel: Paul Epstein and Cherie Epstein, Owners; Misty Guess, Chief of Culture and Pensacola Sales Manager; Ann Rush, Fairhope Store GM; Dominick Zambrano, Operations Manager; Mike Overton, PLM Footwear; Michele Kuczynski, PLM Apparel and Accessories; Leah Henley, Fairhope Assistant Manager; Sydney Bercier, Marketing Manager

History: Paul and Cherie Epstein took their passion for endurance sports and opened Running Wild in 2000. By 2008, Running Wild moved to East Pensacola Heights and expanded to become the fitness hub for the Gulf Coast. The stand-alone building houses daily runs, clinics, special events and packet pickup for local races. The location in Fairhope, AL, opened in May 2010 and serves the greater Mobile and Gulf Shores areas. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Running Wild strives to connect, equip, encourage and inspire every guest who walks in the door. Our goal is to create meaningful and lasting relationships with all of our customers. We strive to be a staple in our communities and to remain a beacon of community and belonging for everyone.”

What the Award Means to Them: “This award is more than being one of the top running stores. It means that each employee pours their heart and soul into every customer interaction. It means that we are more than just a running store. We are a place that people feel they are part of every day. Running Wild isn’t just one of the best running stores; it’s a place of belonging and community.” 


Melbourne, FL

Key Personnel: Pete Vaughn, President/Co-owner; John Carr, VP/Co-owner; Tanya Bareford, Customer Service Manager

History: Running Zone was founded in May 2003 by Don and Denise Piercy. Pete Vaughn has been a part of Running Zone since 2009 and John Carr since 2018. The Piercys retired in April 2022 and sold the business – including the event management company Running Zone Race Management – to Vaughn and Carr.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our store is unique in a few ways, most notably that we have a wide range of ages reflected in our customer base and staff. Our location in Florida skews the age demographic high, but we feel like our staff represents our community well. This also leads to our customer base being more non-runners than runners, so we’re always looking at our product assortment to determine the best offerings.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “This award is a reflection of our combined hard work and commitment to providing the best service possible. No matter what products our customers walk out with, we feel like customer service is what we sell. I’m proud of the obstacles we’ve overcome over the last year or so to make this achievement possible.” 


Edwardsville, IL

Key Personnel: Jen Schaller, Owner; Nick Miller, GM; Sandy Holmes, Supervisor of Merchandising and Buying; Don Yakstis, Supervisor of Staff Development and Public Relations

History: The store was founded in May, 2013. In 2016 the store moved to its current location, which is more than twice the size of the original shop. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our store is unique because of the connections we make with our customers. Our staff genuinely cares about the community that we serve. Through our events – You Matter (mental health awareness) and Students on the Run (a program for high school students) – and the individual efforts of our team members, we make our community feel welcome, valued, connected and celebrated.”

What the Award Means to Them: “When you open a business, you feel like you’re barely treading water and sometimes you feel like you’re sinking. You question yourself a lot. To be recognized by our industry as one of the best stores in the U.S. is indescribable! We feel seen. We feel valued. We feel inspired to do even more.”


Two locations in Arkansas: Bentonville, Fayetteville

Key Personnel: Mike Rush, Owner; James Reeves, GM; Keri Letson, Apparel Buyer; Allie Kaminski, Staff Educator. Floor Managers: Niki Michaelsen, Kristi Kelley, Mac May, Ben Ledbetter 

History: Mike Rush opened Rush Running in March of 2008 with the Bentonville shop and the Fayetteville location followed in 2011.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We are ingrained in the local community. Our race team is all paces and from all walks of life — our best customers have become family. Rush Running gives more than $20,000 of footwear each year to underprivileged children and adults.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We strive all year long to stay as one of the top shops in the country. When we won Store of the Year in 2018 it blew us away and all staff are proud of this achievement.” 


Four locations in and around Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake City, Foothill Village, Centerville, Sandy

Key Personnel: Guy and Debbie Perry, Owners

History: Salt Lake Running began in 1995 and has grown into the premier, locally owned run specialty store in the Salt Lake valley with four locations. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We strive to provide a great customer experience and connect with and support our active community in many ways. It is fulfilling to know that we can relate to, educate, interact with and assist the people that come to us and serve them in ways that are hard to find anywhere else.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It is a nice way to acknowledge and validate all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes all year long by everyone on staff. The award helps to elevate the mindset of our staff by helping us to set high, but healthy, expectations of the quality of service that we provide. It also helps us set goals and continue to follow processes and trainings so that we are able to maintain a consistent user and community experience from year to year.” 


Longmont, CO

Key Personnel: Ashlee Anderson, Owner/Manager; Roger Anderson, Brew Master/Beer Buyer

History: The business had its beginnings in 2013 and the store opened in 2014. Three friends – Ashlee Anderson, Colin Anderson and David Zakavec, all avid runners and beer enthusiasts – embarked on a run in Boulder County that would change their lives and the local scene forever. It began with the rhythm of their shoes against the pavement and the shared passion for two things that seemed to define their existence: the joy of running and the love of craft beer. The trio envisioned a space where the energy of a good run and the camaraderie of sharing a post-run brew could converge. With the spirit of entrepreneurship and a dash of sweat equity, they fused the practicality of a running shoe store with the conviviality of a craft beer bar and a touch of innovation with an on-site brewery. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “By combining a running store with a craft beer bar and brewery, we’ve created a unique and innovative concept that’s never been seen before in the running industry. Our store has become a destination for runners and beer enthusiasts alike, drawing people from all over the area. We believe that the future of the running industry lies in creating an experience that goes beyond just selling shoes and apparel. By offering a fun and welcoming atmosphere where people can come together to run and socialize, we’re helping to redefine what it means to be a running store. We’re committed to creating a unique customer experience that’s second to none. Whether it’s our weekly run club, our beer festivals, or our annual 800m Beer Challenge, we’re always looking for ways to bring people together. 

What the Award Means to Them: “It is an immense honor for us and it means more to our team than words can express. This recognition is not just a trophy on our shelf; it’s a testament to the dedication, passion and hard work of our staff, owners and everyone involved in making our store a unique and special place. It’s a validation of our concept, community approval, a motivation for future excellence and gratitude for a community that accepts and is helping our store thrive.” 


St. Petersburg, FL

Key Personnel: Cody and Janna Angell, Owners; Ross Fielder, GM; Bryson Hillhouse, Assistant Manager

History: After years of working in run specialty in America and Australia, Cody and Janna Angell opened their “dream store” in St. Pete in 2014. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “We really are a thriving community based around a running store. There are so many events, seminars and workouts that people can attend. People come by the store just to hang out. We are blessed with a great and ambitious staff who really love what they do. Everyone believes we’re making our corner of the world healthier. We tell our staff that we’re basically a running community with a store attached to it.”

What the Award Means to Them: “We appreciate the award because it helps to validate that what we are doing is important and it’s noticed. Retailing certainly isn’t easy, so getting awards like this are a nice way to keep our team inspired.” 


Cleveland, TN

Key Personnel: Brittany Katz, Owner and Operator; Tiffany Skinner, Marketing and Engagement Manager 

History: Terra Running Company opened in 2016 in Cleveland, TN. Soon thereafter, the company purchased a historic building in downtown and began a renovation. In 2018, Terra Running Company moved to downtown Cleveland, owner Brittany Katz opened an adjacent coffee shop in the same building and the business has been heavily involved in the revitalization of downtown Cleveland ever since. TRC is also very involved in the Cleveland running and small business community — it uses Chronotrack to do race timing for 20 local races and owns and manages a series of eight races in Cleveland. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Terra Running is the only run specialty store in a large geographical area, so we pull customers from Chattanooga all the way to Knoxville. We have worked hard to make Terra Running the pillar of the running and racing scene in Cleveland. Owner Brittany Katz also owns the coffee shop that shares the same historic downtown building. It is a great extension of the running store, allowing for non-runners to wander in to find gear and shoes accessible for all. Terra Running puts on an eight-race series in Cleveland, from 5K to half-marathon. Brittany and manager Tiffany have a weekly podcast called Terra Girls, which highlights timely running topics and interviews local runners to further connect the running community.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “As a small store with a small staff, Terra Running employees learn to do it all. They are the best shoe fit experts, learn to time and help manage road races, sub in for the coffee shop baristas when necessary and are all-around amazing small business team members. Winning Best Running Stores for the third time in only seven years, and for the second year in a row, is a huge honor for our team. We are proud to provide the best quality brands, expert running knowledge and dependable customer service to Cleveland, TN, and bring home this award yet again.” 


Missoula, MT

Key Personnel: Anders Booker, Owner; Meg Booker, Footwear Buyer, Operations; Erin Forde, Floor Manager and Accessory/Apparel Buyer

History: Anders Brooker and his parents, Tim and Carol, started the store in 2001. There is one location in Missoula, MT, but The Runner’s Edge has increased its footprint and community involvement for the past 23 years. The store works closely with its local run club, Run Wild Missoula, and has helped them establish a membership base of more than 1700. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “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.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “This award is an acknowledgement 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 award shows off how our entire team works together to create something special.” 


Daytona Beach, FL

Key Personnel: Juan and Katrina Guevara, Owners. Managers: Wendy Mozena, Ryan Lorow

History: In 2016, The Running Elements opened in Volusia County and in 2019 the business expanded into a larger, more centralized location in Daytona Beach. Today, the store hosts a variety of wellness workshops, training groups and social events each month. (In 2021, a second The Running Elements store, operating as a franchise under separate management, opened in Ocala, FL.) The Running Elements is looking forward to new additions coming to the brand in 2024. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “The Running Elements is a gathering place for a variety of groups, including cross-country teams, training groups, event coordinators and health professionals. Opening the space to the community keeps the energy high and the store busy with locals.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “It is a wonderful acknowledgement of the staff’s effort and hard work put in over the years.” 


Glendale, AZ

Key Personnel: Rebecca and Nathan Hohenstein, Co-owners; Josie Vasquez and Judi Morris, Floor Managers; Liz Coleman, Footwear Buyer; Kris Andreou, Apparel and Accessories Buyer/Merchandiser; Kristen Livermore, Fit Expert and Coach

History: Tortoise and Hare was founded in 2012 and operates one location.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Our culture and values guide us to continue to serve our community in meaningful ways. We’ve always focused on a great experience both in-store and with our events and running programs.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “This award stands as a testament to the hard work and dedication our team shows to our community on a daily basis. This means a lot to our team and is something we feel we continue to earn throughout the year.”


Two locations in Ohio: Dayton and Troy

Key Personnel: Susie Stein, Owner; Nickie Luse, Buyer, Marketing, Outreach; Maria Mills, HR, Staff Training; Angela Jordan, Receiving, Inventory Management, Facilities. Store Managers: Laurie Spiewak, Bobby Bresemann, Evan Daubenmire

History: Founded in 2005, Up and Running Dayton was born from the simple, powerful vision of owner Susie Stein that anyone can be a runner. In 2011, a second location was added in Troy, OH. The mission is to provide a place for everyone – every pace, every ability – to enhance their lives through running and walking. The team is bonded by a shared love of the community and Up and Running is about inclusion, purpose and experience. 

What Makes Your Store Unique: “I hope that when people leave our stores they feel better than when they came in, whether that involves aches or pains or an emotional state from a great conversation with one of our fitters. We pride ourselves on meeting folks wherever they are in their life or fitness journeys. We are unique in business, as we see the lowest of lows and the highest of highs at the fit bench with our customers. We are unique in that business and humility intersect at our store for the greater good of every person that walks through our door.” 

What the Award Means to Them: “We are humbled that our community trusts in our expertise and genuine care and concern to make Dayton, OH, a healthier and happier place to live.” 


Methuen, MA

Key Personnel: Dave Kazanjian, Owner. Management Team: Maggi Murray, Adriana Birleanu, Ryan Kowal

History: Whirlaway Sports just celebrated its 40th anniversary, having opened on June 1, 1983. The retailer’s mission is to enhance people’s lives by helping them achieve their athletic and wellness goals. Whirlaway Sports also continues to support student-athletes from youth programs through college and beyond into the fitness and road-racing scene and is instrumental in growing an active, vibrant community.

What Makes Your Store Unique: “Whirlaway Sports Center is located on 16 acres of land that also includes the Whirlaway Golf Driving Range, which has been in the family for 93 years. In fact, the driving range is the oldest family-owned one in the country. Uniquely, many of our events interweave the store and driving range for team building events. And more recently Whirlaway Sports has become a pioneer for the pickleball category, growing to one of the premier destinations in the Greater Boston and Southern New Hampshire areas.”

What the Award Means to Them: “It is truly amazing to receive this award, which I never take for granted. I am so proud of my staff for how hard they work every day. There is no greater satisfaction than to get compliments from my customers on my staff. It makes me feel very proud of the family-like atmosphere we cultivate. We are a team, we are friends and we are a family.”