Sunday, February 21, 2016

Running shoe stores have your back

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, February 21, 2016


In last Sunday’s column readers were introduced to three running specialty stores and their owners or managers.  Specialty stores are operated by runners for runners.

Heather McDermott who manages the Running Company store in Morristown ran track and cross country in high school and college in her native Canada, and has continued to run and race.  In 2006 she won the Verizon Corporate Classic as Heather Gardiner.

Of all the specialty run stores, the Running Company tops the list for the number of group runs with four every week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and on Saturday.

“People appreciate that we have people here to run with,” said McDermott.

Being in the heart of Morristown allows for another feature; packet pickup, especially the Super Hero races, with which she is associated.  Next month Running Company will have packet pickup for the St. Paddy’s 5K in Morris Township. 

Fitting and finding the best shoes for their customers are always going to be a specialty store’s prime focus.   The Running Company has an in-the-store treadmill that customers can hop on to test drive the shoe.

John Williams of Modern Athlete ran track and cross country at Paul VI high school.  He was state champion in cross country in Parochial A and second in all groups.  At St. Joseph University he ran cross country and track where he was Atlantic cross country champion.

A post collegiate job at the Bryn Mawr running store while working on his graduate degree set him up for a job as a Brooks running shoe representative.  After 12 years with Brooks, Williams opened the Modern Athlete store in Florham Park.   Modern Athlete lives up to its name.  State of the art video analysis software is used to play slow motion videos of each customer running on one of two treadmills in the store.

“Running is very much at the center of what we do,” said Williams.  “There is this active lifestyle and I wanted to be flexible and move with the times.”

Training programs are big at Modern Athlete.  Starting next Saturday, the 20th, a training program will start that will get runners to the New Jersey Half Marathon on May 1st.  Their 5K beginner runner program is run twice a year.  Group runs from the store are on Wednesday evenings and on Saturday a group runs in Loantaka Park.

After the London Olympics Matt Walsh left Runners Edge on Long Island to relocate to Flagstaff to pursue his dream to rise to the elite level in racing. 

“I gave it my best shot,” he said, “but injuries and other circumstances led to that never coming to fruition.”

A call from Joe Jacobs who was working at the time in the Basking Ridge Sneaker Factory store, and who was relocating to the Florham Park store opened a new door for Walsh.  He has been the manager in Basking Ridge now for three years.  While injuries blocked his dream Walsh continues to run on a more limited basis and brings his perspective to managing a running store.

Walsh echoed what Williams of Modern athlete observed.  People will come into the store and prefaced their shoe quest with a statement that they are not a runner.  He asks them what they are doing and they respond that they are training for a half marathon.  Walsh said that some of those people may be running in pain with poorly fitted shoes from the chain stores.

“When you feel that, you cannot understand why people love to run, because your paradigm is a negative experience,” he said.

“If there is any one thing that I try to promote within the store it is that no one needs to feel like they are not fast enough or fit enough to qualify,” said Walsh.  “The shoes are not graded for any kind of ability.  My job is to make sure that your feet and your ankles and your body move as you were built and to find the shoes that will compliment your motion the best.”

In interviewing the owners/managers for this series, what comes through from all is that they really care about their customers;  that their customers leave their store with the right equipment for their runs.   Their dedication to the runner is evident.  They’ve got your back.


Race Results can often be found at or at 
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

No comments:

Post a Comment