In April of 2007, about two months after I moved to Albuquerque, I ran a 10k. One of the sponsors of the race was a local business called ABQ Running Shop, and after the race, a representative from the shop mentioned that they hosted weekly group runs.
Normally, I would have heard this and ignored it, since I’m more of a solo runner. But that day, the words sunk in. I thought, “I just moved here, and need to meet people. Why not try a running group?”
I visited the shop, made some purchases, and got more information on the group runs — it turned out there was a run that weekend. In the blink of an eye, it was Saturday and I was walking into the shop, nerves a-flutter at meeting these new people.
That day I met my first Albuquerque friend, Jessica. Through Jessica, I met a group of other people, and wham-bam I had a social circle!
Little did I know how much my life would change when I walked into that shop.
And now ABQ Running Shop is closing.
It makes sense, I suppose: the owner now lives in Arizona, and sometimes life just moves on. And it’s not like Albuquerque has been left without a running shop — there are several in the area, and they’re perfectly fine.
But still, I’m sad.
This running shop and I have been in Albuquerque roughly the same amount of time. The shop’s owner, Randy, and his wife, Tara, have become close friends of mine; my husband and I are godparents to their son. And of course we’ll still keep in touch and visit each other.
But still. I’m sad.
I’ll miss the shop. Since moving to Albuquerque, it’s where I’ve bought all of my running shoes. I’ve bought clothing for myself and various family members there. It’s where I bought my first “big gift” for my then-boyfriend – a pair of running shoes. When that boyfriend and I decided to get married, it’s where I bought a maid-of-honor gift for my sister.
I’ve watched ABQ Running Shop grow from the small “new guy” of the local running market into a valued part of the community. It has not just sponsored, but organized some really cool races (ah, the World’s Toughest 10k – my quads burn just thinking about it). Several years ago, the shop moved across town. It got a little bigger, but retained its superb customer service and friendly atmosphere.
Days after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the shop announced that it would host a group run to raise funds for those affected, and what started as a spontaneous idea turned into an EVENT, with hundreds of people, news crews, and thousands of dollars raised. I went, and have rarely witnessed such a concentrated, impressive display of community spirit.
Local running shops are treasures. They’re good for the health of a person and they’re good for the health of a town. Every town needs and deserves one; not every town is lucky enough to have one.
Thanks for everything, ABQ Running Shop. You were there exactly when I needed you. You’ve made me a better runner and probably a better person.