Introducing River Valley Running Mankato!
While most of us would consider the Twin Cities metro area to be the epicenter of our running world, a few of us (myself included) call an area of Minnesota home which is too truly far of a stretch to even call it a “suburb”.
Having moved from the East Coast to the tiny of town of Morristown during high school, my introduction to the Minnesota running scene came by way of high school cross country and track meets which included all sorts of smaller (and often very rural) southern Minnesota towns within our sports jurisdiction. Bigger cities like Rochester and Mankato were thrown in the mix as you moved up to the higher levels of high school running competition.
Despite the sheer number of participants at some of these meets, most of us bought our running shoes either at big box sporting goods stores or mail order catalogs (not to date myself too much, but the idea of online shopping was really just starting to take off as I crossed the stage and received my diploma…and my Adidas Ozweego shoes for my senior year cross country season came from the JCPenney store at the Faribault mall).
Opening a Running Store
Fast forward to a few short months ago, and Jordan resident Kurt Keiser was coming at the same problem from a slightly different direction. After a decade of working as a sales representative for a major shoe manufacturer, he was ready to jump to the other side of market, and open up his own retail store. The metro area and immediate suburbs already have a bevy of wonderful running shops (and he had formed a great relationship with so many of them throughout that decade). Kurt was looking for a place to put his dream which could truly use a running/walking shop.
Thinking back to his time at Minnesota State University in Mankato (I won’t tell you when, but he did make it to college a few years before I did…), an idea was born – Mankato was his chance to reach a new and potentially untapped market, while also not having to uproot his family to pursue his dream.
Four short months after inception, River Valley Running Mankato is open for business! While you can see one of those big box sporting goods stores I frequented in high school from his store’s parking lot, Kurt’s vision is so much more:
We are a full service specialty running a walking shop, catering to anyone who desires a professional fit, sound running advice, and unsurpassed customer service. We are offering Mankato and Southern Minnesota something they have not yet experienced, complete with gait analysis and foot assessments. Customers will leave our store feeling motivated, inspired, and very comfortable in their new kicks.
While the store really hasn’t even been open long enough to start to get any dust on their shelves, what they do have is a pretty impressive list of vendors and products, including the following:
- Footwear: Asics, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony, Altra, Hoka, Mizuno, New Balance, and Altra.
- Apparel: Mizuno, New Balance, Saucony, Lole, Oiselle, Tasc, Brooks, and Adidas.
- Accessories: Just to name a few, Strassburg Sock, Pro-Tec, Amphipod, Feetures, Balega, Fitsok (don’t forget to pick up a pair of RVR-branded Fitsoks!), New Balance, Sole Footbeds, and Brooks.
- Nutrition: Tailwind, Clif, Powerbar products, Gu, Huma Gel, Nuun, Picky Bar, and Bonk Breaker.
Inventory aside, what really sets any good specialty running store apart from your typical online shopping spree is the people, and the service. Kurt has assembled a pretty dedicated cast of characters, each with an obvious passion for being active, and sharing that enthusiasm with everyone who walks through the door. Mention that you are looking for some new shoes, and the adventure begins…
The process of fitting someone to a pair of shoes is really an art form for Kurt and the folks at RVR. An informal interview helps them get a feel for your personal history (previous races, typical training levels, previous shoes and how they worked out for you, any injuries past or present), any brand/style preferences, and your future goals.
Have you ever seen a pressure map of your foot? While I won’t admit exactly how many tries it took to get me to land one foot at a time on the pad while in stride (you try walking “naturally” while also aiming for a spot not much bigger than your foot!), seeing a pressure “map” of your foot as you walk is one more tool which the staff can use to help assess your gait and in turn your footwear needs – and much to the excitement of my three year old, you can even take the print of your foot home with you if you ask nicely!
After that, it was time to hop on the treadmill with a few different recommend shoes. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can even play the video back and forth in super slow motion on the store’s iPad, which helped Kurt and I notice a few interesting aspects of my stride.
While it certainly took a little bit longer than simply walking in to your nearest athletic gear store, grabbing a box off the rack, and hurrying home to see if I really liked my purchase or not…it was time well spent. The staff at RVR has a breadth of knowledge to draw from, quite a selection to support a multitude of activity goals, and the kind of store you will want to keep coming back to.
Community at River Valley Running
Community involvement is also high on the store’s immediate goals, so stay tuned for partnerships with some local events, as well as more firm plans for some store-sponsored group runs. If you are ever in the area (Mankato Marathon anyone?), or call somewhere south of the metro area home, definitely stop in and check out River Valley Running!
They are at 1849 Adams Street in Mankato, conveniently located right across the River Hills Mall (just across the frontage road from Barnes and Noble, right next to Planet Fitness). You can also give them a call at (507) 386-4609, check out their website, or swing by their Facebook page.
Do you call southern Minnesota home? Have you stopped by River Valley Running Mankato yet? Leave us a comment below with your impressions.