The Marathon Sports store at the Boston Marathon finish line is a prime example of “location, location, location.” While the placement of the store is a natural advantage for reaching serious runners, the business is also part of a walking neighborhood and serves residents who walk many miles a day and want to protect their feet with properly fitted shoes.
Marathon Sports was founded in 1975 in a storefront just north of Harvard Square. In 1992, Colin Peddie took over ownership and is credited with pioneering the “gait assessment component” of fitting walking and running shoes that is the industry standard today.
In 2001, they opened the Boylston Street flagship store staffed with people trained in “The Right Fit” process. This involves “a personal consultation” that matches a foot with the shoe that will best help a customer prevent injuries and stay active.
Store Manager, Shane O’Hara says, “I think as long as both people have good communication with each other, you should be able to walk out of here with a pretty happy shoe.” He encourages testing shoes the way you’ll use them. You’ll often see customers running up and down outside the store on Boylston Street getting the feel of various shoes.
The skills honed over years of finding the right shoe for the most serious of runners also serve the less fit among us. Their motto, “Keeping Your Life In Motion” applies to everyone, whether you run, walk, or limp.
This month, thousands of visiting runners and marathon fans have flocked to this store to see the collection of heritage running shoes and race memorabilia. Throughout the year, runners make use of the community that Marathon Sports has created within its stores, online, and at running and charity events around the area.
For residents and area workers, they sponsor three to eight mile “Group Runs” Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. With a range of levels and his knowledge of the group, O’Hara is usually able to match a new person with appropriate running partners. “There are so many people that there’s always going to be someone running ahead, behind, or right with you.”
They also provide a place to change and store your gear, a quick pre-run stretch, and post-run refreshments.
Taking the Conversation Online
For a decade, runners have stopped into this Marathon Sports store to pick up race entry forms, running club newsletters, and to chat with the staff and customers about their favorite topic. In recent years, the business has taken that conversation online where they can include the wide community of runners who may only get to one of the stores when they visit this area.
The company website, www.marathonsports.com has a community section that links to running clubs, resources for injury prevention, a river map with measured legs to plan runs, and a race calendar.
Their Facebook page and Twitter feed are open conversations about shoes, races, training, injuries, and encouragement for runners– always important, no matter at what level you run.
Marathon Sports is in the Best of Boston Hall of Fame after winning 12 Awards. The store was very busy the past two week with visiting runners. But, for those who live nearby, it remains a part of the community long after the marathoners have crossed the finish line and returned to their homes.