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Running this town

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Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 10:37 am

About 10 years ago, Brian Kearney could barely run a mile. He’d been fit at one point, having played baseball in college, but after years working on country club golf courses, he’d lost it.

“I’d probably gained 40 pounds,” he said of the time.

But he kept with it, heading out just about every day and running further and further each time. A year later, he ran his first marathon. Kearney was hooked.

Since then, he’s done Ironmans, bike races in the Blue Ridge Mountains and 50-kilometer trail runs. He also quit working at country clubs and started organizing group runs for fitness companies and getting his personal training license.

And Thursday, he’ll start the next chapter of his fitness odyssey, opening Winged Foot Running and Walking at 135 S. Broad St. in downtown Monroe.

“In my opinion, running is the best exercise you can do,” Kearney said.

“You’re working every muscle in your body when you’re running.”

The store will sell all kinds of running and walking shoes, plus other gear like shorts, tights, bottles, recovery drinks and just about anything else anyone could possibly need to get themselves out on the road.

He’ll also be organizing social runs around Monroe, which will run a 3-mile loop around town every Saturday at 8 a.m.

Kearney got the idea to open this kind of store a little over a year ago. He and his wife, Jamie, and two children had just moved from Lawrenceville to Bethlehem, and Kearney was working at the Brad Akins YMCA in Winder and training other clients on the side.

He’d just made an ill-fated attempt to get back in the country club business by working for one in Buckhead, but quickly realized he couldn’t balance the odd hours with his life at home. 

That put him in an in-between period, looking for his next opportunity and spending a lot of time running the trails at Fort Yargo State Park.

One day, however, one of his personal training clients asked if he’d ever been to downtown Monroe. He said he hadn’t.

“Well you should open a running store down there,” she said.

Kearney said he would look into it.

He found that there wasn’t a specialty running and walking store anywhere between Athens and Lawrenceville. He figured he could build a successful business in the area.

This week, Winged Foot’s soft opening will be on Thursday and the grand opening will be Saturday.

Besides working the entire body, the other great thing about running, Kearney said, is you don’t need a whole lot of stuff to get into it.

“It’s fairly inexpensive. All you really need is a good pair of shoes,” he said.

And a good pair of shoes means different things for different people. Running shoes are not all the same. Some offer more stability. Some more cushion. Others offer little of either. What works for each runner is based on how he or she runs.

So, Kearney will watch everyone who wants to buy a pair of shoes run on a treadmill before recommending a pair. He’ll also study the wear-patterns on their old shoes to see where they’ve been putting stress.

“You don’t get the benefit of a good running shoe without having one that fits your stride. You can actually hurt yourself if you run too much in the wrong pair,” he said.

Winged Foot will carry the three biggest running shoe brands, Brooks, Mizuno and Saucony, as well as more specialty names like Hoka One One, Salomon and Altra.

He’s hoping anyone can come in to Winged Foot, find a good pair of shoes and start their own running journey.

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