The Healdsburg Running Company bills itself as “America’s ‘wine-iest’ running store,” and along with a sense of humor comes big ambition to make Healdsburg one of the healthiest towns in the nation.
Skip Brand, founder of the company, said he had been mulling the idea of an athletic gear store for eight years before starting one in 2014. His new store carries specialty running and walking shoes and gear, along with some equipment for triathletes. It also accepts specialty gear orders, working with 30 vendor-partners to make that happen.
The full- and part-time staff of 10 includes two running shoe fit specialists and eight local residents.
Brand’s goals include reaching the community through social groups, meet-ups and focused runs; supporting charities “because it’s the right thing to do”; and, of course, making Healdsburg the “Healthiest Town in America.” His final goal is to “whoop it up” and build the running world.
Tuesday is the Ladies’ Night run for locals only. The runs are themed, like “Leprechaun Chase” on March 17.
Thursday runs are from the store to another local business, such as running to Nobel Folk for pie or to the Healdsburg Bar and Grill for refreshments. Tuesday and Thursday runs both begin at the store at 6 p.m.
Saturday trail runs start at 8 a.m. and include an after-run meet-up. Details are available on the website, healdsburgrunningcompany.com.
Brand, 49, also has bigger goals that include camps and “glamping” in Wine Country. The camps, billed as “4 trails, 4 winemakers in 4 days,” will offer participants the chance to run in private vineyards, enjoy lunch and wine with a “running winemaker,” then attend a cooking class. Glamping trips will take runners on “luxury custom running tours” to places like Big Sur .
Brand has a strong background in the sport, running in 50 marathons and completing 14 Iron Man triathlons. He says the joy isn’t in winning or personal bests, but in finishing the grueling races.
“Four things are important to me: live, love, learn and leave a Healdsburg legacy,” he said.
Brand has a doctorate in computer science from Arizona State University and jokes about being the “shoe doctor.”
The Healdsburg Running Company is located at 333 Center St., 395-0372, healdsburgrunningcompany.com. Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.