Get to Know Duluth Running Company
I have always had a special affection for Duluth Minnesota. Growing up in Grand Marais on the North Shore of Lake Superior, we often traveled to the “big city” for shopping, Dr. appointments, groceries… most things actually. As a kid growing up in northern Minnesota during the late 80’s and early 90’s, Duluth felt like New York City by comparison.
After contacting Duluth Running company to see what Black Friday deals they had this year, I thought it would be fun to feature a local running store outside the Twin Cities Metro.
Duluth is a great city (and of course, recently voted best outdoor town in the country).
I had the chance to talk with Tony Stensland, the store manager. He gave me a little more insight and perspective about why you should get to know Duluth Running Company. If you’re up north and need a group to run with, checkout Duluth Running Co!
What is Duluth Running Company?
Located at 1026 E Superior St, (steps from the Lakewalk), Duluth Running Co. opened in 2006. Over the past several years, they have become the region’s premiere destination running store. In addition to regular running stuff, you can also find a myriad of other gear from triathlon to yoga.
They are passionate about the sports of running and triathlon and specialize in outfitting, training, and encouraging those who are both new and experienced.
Stensland says that,
We pride ourselves on being enthusiastic about all aspects of the sport of running and firmly believe that everyone can find something to enjoy about the sport. Whether a person is a front of the pack runner or a back of the pack runner, we are committed to helping them enjoy the sport in anyway we can. We believe in building a large community of runners through dedication and encouragement. We believe that running has the power to improve people’s lives and we are committed to helping foster that.
Because they are located in Duluth, arguably one of the more difficult places to run during the cold months, they are particularly good at outfitting your for the challenges of winter running.
The bread and butter or any specialty running store is their ability to fit you for shoes. DRC is no different. They think it is their life’s work to make sure everyone gets in a pair of shoes that meets their needs. Tony say,
We believe that each and every person is unique in their shoe needs and that it is our job to find out what those needs are and fit them accordingly. We do not believe in a “one shoe fits all” approach and work hard to make sure that each customer gets the individual attention that they deserve.
Like others, they use video analysis as well as running history and current goals to figure out what type and style of shoe would fit best.
Coaching and Group Training
For the past five years, Duluth Running Co. has offered marathon and half marathon training groups. It has become the region’s largest and most popular training group. Every year it continues to grow. If you’d like to get involved, the group meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and also on Saturday mornings (for the long run).
If you’re training for a spring or fall marathon, they have two different group: one from January to June and one from July to December.
They also host a group for beginners looking to run their first 5k. That group meets on Monday and Thursday evenings. This group also has two different sessions, one from April to June and one from September to November.
Tony says they also offer a Triathlon group on Tuesday nights from June to September.
Making Everyone feel Welcome
Like most running stores, DRC makes sure people new to running feel welcome and comfortable in the store. Tony says,
…we really believe that everyone is a runner and that everyone’s respective reasons for running are right and worth our attention and effort. It can sometimes be easy for new runners to be intimidated by a running specialty store and we want to make sure that we alleviate that intimidation at all times and welcome everyone.
When they are not busy making people feel welcome in the store, they are busy with their own event production and race timing services.
What Others are Saying about Duluth Running Company
I also reached out to a few store regulars to get their take. What makes Duluth Running Co. so special?
Patty Beech joined one of DRC’s running groups in 2010, shortly after some significant life changes. She was looking to get back into long-distance running and make new friends. She says,
I have made so many great friends in the Duluth running community, and the Duluth Running Company is our center of activity, support, and running information! I ran two marathons and multiple half-marathons, set personal records, and developed a love of trail running through participation in the DRC’s running groups.
In 2013, Patty was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before Grandma’s Marathon. That didn’t stop her from running. The staff and new friends from DRC were her biggest fans.
They cheered me from the store during that marathon, organized an awesome happy hour for me after the race, supported me with food and flowers and cards and chores during my cancer treatment, and were there for me when I returned to running in January of 2014!
For Patty, it’s more than just the great gear and great service. It’s about the community.
Gavin Reynolds, another local runner, has had a similar experience. He says the store doesn’t just sell shoes. The staff are athletes themselves, and use the gear they are selling. They will tell you what works and “what’s crap.” He goes on to say,
The store itself is a meeting place for runs that are not necessarily store promoted. You can use it as a base, its convenient due to its location to the lake walk.
He also mentioned that Duluth Running Company has a way of promoting running that is unique, fun and encouraging of everyone. Recently they hosted a “Brews and Shoes” series. It is a group run with a host from a local micro brewery. Go for a run and sample local beer!
Gavin also appreciates that the staff volunteer at several events during the year. Running is what brings people together, but it is the community involvement and engagement that makes it feel like something much bigger.
Your Duluth Running Co. Experience
Are you a member of the DRC community? What has been your experience?