Look around any time during the day, and you’re likely to see runners on Colorado Springs’ sidewalks and trails.
The city has always had lots of runners — after all, Colorado is home to the fittest folks in the nation. But in the past couple of decades, the sport of running has grown so much that it has spawned a variety of enterprises catering to its enthusiasts, from casual joggers to serious athletes.
Several local stores specialize in shoes, clothing and gear for runners, and every sporting goods and big-box store offers products for the fleet-footed.
Runners of all abilities participate in clubs sponsored by businesses, mostly bars, getting together for weekly runs and camaraderie.
Sports medicine practices and complementary providers offer relief from the aches and pains that sometimes accompany training.
Here’s a look at a few of those businesses and organizations.
One of the first specialty running stores in the state, Runners Roost, at 121 N. Tejon St., opened in 1977.
The store sells high-quality shoes suited to individual customers’ feet, stride and the type of running they do. It relies on well-trained staff to fit shoes properly and provide gait analysis with the purchase of a pair of shoes.
Runner’s Roost also stocks running apparel for men and women, GPS watches, heart rate monitors, hydration packs, running nutrition products, sunglasses, hats and other accessories.
The store’s customers vary from serious, competitive athletes who run in events like the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon set for Aug. 18-19, to people who run very little or just walk but like to be outdoors and see value in good products.
Current owners Gary and Linda Staines are runners themselves — both competed in the 1988 Olympics for Great Britain. The couple, who moved here in 2002, started working at Runner’s Roost soon after their arrival and bought the store a couple of years later.
“One of the original owners expanded to Denver and Fort Collins,” Linda Staines said. “We bought just this one.”
According to the Runner’s Roost website, the store strives not only to offer customers products and advice for running, but to “build the running scene in the city by being actively involved in the community.”
That includes sponsoring local races.
“We set up a lot of race courses for high schools and host state cross-country,” Staines said. “We join forces with lots of local races; we host packet pickup so people can get bibs and T-shirts.”
The store also sponsors a women’s fitness team, a group of more than 90 women.
“There definitely are a lot more people running now,” Staines said. “Colorado Springs is set up to make running easy with lots of trails and good weather. It’s a pretty easy way to get fit — a good pair of shoes and out you go. The emphasis on Olympic sports helps, too.”
She said people are running very socially these days, adding, “People get together for a run, then hang out and have a beer. That’s this generation of runner, doing it for maybe a different reason.”
Jack Quinn’s Running Club
Running clubs offer the social component many runners seek, and the granddaddy of them all is Jack Quinn’s Running Club.
Every Tuesday, hundreds of runners of all ages and abilities sign up to run or walk a 5K course through downtown Colorado Springs, beginning and ending at the Irish Pub and Restaurant at 21 S. Tejon St.
Upon completion of their runs, members enjoy $1 tacos and drink specials during a runner’s happy hour. Members earn the right to purchase club T-shirts for completing a certain number of runs. The club is dog-friendly — furry members get neckerchiefs for reaching their milestones.
President Michael Schafer has been running with the club since 2009 and credits it for getting him into running.
“I went from not having done any extensive running except during the military to doing multiple races,” Schafer said. “I think the club has done a lot to make running attractive to a larger cross-section of the community.”
Club members also participate in community activities such as fundraisers for organizations like Care and Share, the Bob Telmosse Foundation and El Paso County Search and Rescue. Many volunteer at local running events as course marshals and road crews.
The club was created 12 years ago by a Jack Quinn’s patron who’d recently moved to Colorado Springs from Florida and missed the club he’d belonged to there.
The pub has been supportive of the club from the beginning.
“We get a little bit of extra income on Tuesday nights, but it’s more about getting us out there in the community,” said Meredith Klube, business manager and event coordinator.
The club has grown along with the popularity of running.
“We have upwards of 39,000 members in our database that have run with us at least once,” Schafer said.
Schafer said he thinks other downtown businesses benefit from the club’s weekly runs.
“When you see several hundred runners going in front of your business, you start thinking of ways to capitalize on that,” he said.
The Downtown Partnership recognized the club’s role in benefiting downtown businesses by presenting it with a Downtown Stars award in 2014.
“The club brings an average of 1,200 people to downtown each Tuesday,” the award stated. “Although the club was formed around running, it does far more by fostering community and providing personal and business connections.”
Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy
The Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy, 1490 W. Fillmore St., trains students in all aspects of professional massage therapy.
As part of their training, students must complete a sports massage block. The school operates a Monday evening sports massage clinic, where clients can get a 30-minute massage for $10 or a one-hour massage for $30.
“Massage brings many benefits to runners,” President and Director Roger Patrizio said.
The repetitive motions of running can cause muscles to contract and stay contracted to prevent tearing.
“That’s the body’s natural response, but they’re not getting a full stride with shortened muscles,” Patrizio said.
The job of the massage therapist is to take away that tension, increase flexibility and range of motion, and work on microscopic adhesions before they turn into a chronic injury. Massage therapy also can reduce metabolic waste, oxygenate fatigued muscle groups and increase circulation.
“If a client comes in injured, the role of the massage therapist changes from prevention to addressing soft-tissue injury,” Patrizio said. “Sports therapists are trained to apply different techniques depending on the type of injury.”
“Even casual runners get the same benefits,” he said. “They may not take the time to stretch or warm up properly. We look at shoes, leg length discrepancies, gait, knees and hips. Massage therapists can also bring really good information to help the novice runner have less chance of injury and move with an easier gait.”
The institute’s students also offer free massages on Tuesdays to veterans dealing with PTSD and substance abuse issues. The school sponsors a general clinic where anyone can get massages by students, graduate interns and licensed professionals at discounted prices. Students offer free services at numerous sports events, including the Marathon and Ascent, walkathons and other local races.
A runner himself, Patrizio said he enters the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon in alternating years. He’ll be running the Ascent this year.
Patrizio enrolled in the institute as a student in 1988 and upon graduation, opened a practice in a one-room office in downtown Colorado Springs. The practice, Pikes Peak Massage Therapy, grew into a five-room clinic with eight therapists and clients including the Cheyenne Mountain Conference Resort, Country Club of Colorado and Kissing Camels Country Club.
In 1992, he returned to the institute as director of the student clinic and took on increasing responsibilities over the next 20 years including instructor, director and owner. He continues to practice massage therapy.
“Because we have such an active population, I think we have more interest in sports medicine and alternative or complementary modalities like massage therapy and chiropractic,” he said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Michael Schafer’s name.