Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rush Running Company

A while back my local shop, Rush Running Company, was nominated as one of the 50 best running stores in the entire US of A. This is an annual competition sponsored by Competitor and Running Insight. After intensive review and research of all nominations a few fortunate shops were chosen for closer inspection. We made the cut. As a result a film crew was dispatched to Bentonville, AR to document things. They went to the shop to interview folks and came out to Ol' Tiger Track for the regular Monday night Rush Hour. Before the day was over the word was that Rush Running Co had made the final four. This was big. 

The next day I called Mike Rush to get his thoughts on the whole deal. Needless to say the guy was excited. He thought it would take a number of years to reach this level. It then crossed my mind that maybe he doesn't realize how good this shop is.
Maybe I shouldn't be surprised he doesn't get it?
Me: "Mike, are you able to see from inside the bubble just how damn good your shop really is? Can you step back and see it objectively?"
Mike: "Well, I think our customer service is pretty good. Yeah, well, it's good. But I think what really sets us apart is how the store looks. It's open and clean, not cluttered, customers can easily see what we have..." and blah, blah, blah...

I realized then that Mike was not able to see the forest for the trees. Seriously? A good floor plan is what makes you one of the best in the game? I'm here to set things straight. If a store has great customer service and is involved in the community that's all well and good. Rush Running Co is so much more than that. 
Yeah, not surprised at all
It doesn't matter whether you are a fresh faced and slightly scared rookie runner or a gristle filled veteran, if you are willing to lace 'em up and toe the line Rush is there to support you. Wanna set a 36 minute PR in a 5k or run a 5 minute mile? Rush has you covered. Have plans to knock out 5 marathons in 5 days or throw down at Western States 100? Rush ain't scared. Need help finishing your first half marathon or losing 150 pounds of body weight? Rush says "Bring it!" These are all true by the way. The enthusiasm, dedication, service and passion of Rush Running Co is second to none. And when I refer to Rush Running Co obviously that includes Ali and Mike Rush. It includes all of the store staff. The race team also gets thrown into the mix. The combined force of these elements is undeniable. If that's all there was to it that would still be a great story. But there is yet more...
The Real Boss
And this is the part that I believe Mike and Ali are not able to see. The gal that wanted that 36 minute 5k PR, she followed the plan provided by Rush and worked hard. And she got it. The guy that thought a 5 flat mile was a good challenge? He busted his butt for 12 weeks over the summer with twice weekly track workouts and came so very close with a 5:14 effort. At the age of 44. Five marathons in five days? Done. Conquering WS100? Check. Finish that first half mary? Yes, hundreds of times over. Losing more than 100 pounds? Sure thing, with more still coming off. And Rush Running is there every step of the way. Rush Running sees the potential in folks that individuals have not yet realized. That potential is polished day by day and step by step. Sometimes it is high fives when passing on a trail. Other times  it is a shout out while driving by on the road. It includes screaming across the track if you slack on the back stretch. It is hugs at the finish line. It is an arm around the shoulder and whispers in the ear of being capable of more than you know.

All these folks and so many more have taken those accomplishments and carried them away tucked inside of themselves. Those challenges overcome in running instill a sense of confidence and achievement. Make no mistake about it, that positivity spills over into other parts of their lives. In essence, they become better people. If she can complete that half marathon what else is she capable of? Through hard work and focus if he can touch that 5 minute mile what else is possible? And so on and so forth... That's powerful stuff folks. That's life changing stuff right there.

I have lived in a few different places and have run in each of them. Dallas, Ft. Worth, Chicago, College Station, Fayetteville (before Rush Running) and Joplin. The magic never happened in those places. Since finding Rush Running Co I have gone places I never imagined I would go to run. The piney woods of East Texas, the mountains of Tennessee, the Rockies, the Grand Tetons, the Smokey Mountains, all across the Ozarks, Ouachitas and beyond. And I want more. I have met some of the finest folks that walk the earth and some of them have become my closest friends. The Goats, the race team, the familiar faces at the track. I get shout outs of "Rush Running!" in places I have never been when wearing my gear. I have seen snow capped peaks, clear mountain streams, the beautiful colors of autumn in the Ozarks, groves of Aspen trees, thick Pine forests, boulder fields, the high desert at sunrise and sunsets over the ocean. I have seen things so overwhelming that I had to stop in my tracks to soak it in. I have memories to last me a lifetime. I imagine there are lots of shops that can help you become a better runner. Places that give training advice and maybe hold group runs. What I am talking about is carefully investing in the lives of customers because of a passion for running. It is being a good steward of the gift and sharing it with others. I am a better runner but more importantly a better person. Thank you. 

That is why Rush Runners are so damn loyal to the brand. And that is why we will not stop until Rush Running Co is on top. To Ali and Mike, we are so very proud of you. We already knew what others are just learning. To Drew, Jenny, Ryan, Andrew, Marilyn, Rachel, Harry, Trae, Heather, Travis, Taylor, Nick, Jamye, AnneMarie and others (sorry if I left anyone out), you are on the front lines day in and day out and make it happen. Your contributions do not go unnoticed and I hope you understand the positive and powerful impact you have in the lives of people you serve. To my fellow Goats and Rush Running Race Team members, I am honored to be counted among you all. I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of it. The running community in NWA is not only alive and well but is as diverse and dynamic a group as you will find anywhere. At the heart of it all is Rush Running. Thank you Rush Running Co for all you do for so many. Cheers!