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CHATTER: Runners Shop keeps the pace during pandemic (Mar. 2021)

March 26th, 2021 · No Comments

The Runners Shop team, celebrating one year in the Annex, includes (from L to R): Tara Lapstra, Greg Lindsay, and owner Lynne Bourque. BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS

March 2021 marks one year since the start of the first lockdown in Toronto under the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto. It also marks a year since The Runners Shop moved to a more visible location at 374 Bloor St. W. The store’s opening came on February 18, just four weeks before the first lockdown. 

As the community aspect of running was put on hold last spring along with the city’s marathon season, The Runner’s Shop was able to step-up as a community hub for everything related to running during the pandemic. Lynn Bourque along with her team of experienced runners, Greg Lindsay and Tara Lapstra, were able to provide a coaching-type customer service along with their curbside shoe fittings. 

“We’re here to serve, that’s what I’m most proud of,” says Bourque, “I want this to be a place where people feel welcome.” 

The shop-local movement has been a determining factor in the shop’s success, though Bour-que commends the Annex community for supporting local businesses even before the pan-demic.

Despite the need to physically distance, many new runners joined the scene as gyms and team sports closed down. 

“The great thing about running is that it’s simple, all you need  to start is a pair of shoes,” says Bourque, who adds that the right running gear can make a world of a difference in terms of comfort. The shop offers all sorts of apparel and shoes meant to make the process of running as smooth as possible. Bourque pointed out a windbreaker with a channels made to wick away sweat as soon as possible, proving the apparel to be more for technical than aesthetic purposes.

The Runners Shop was first opened in 1975 by David Ellis, an accomplished runner. Though many things about running have changed about the sport since then, the thing Bourque says she most loves about it is its growth towards inclusion.

“The first Olympic women’s marathon wasn’t held until 1984,” she says. “Which means that women wouldn’t have been able to set their sights on this event when Dave opened the shop.” 

In terms of getting started as a runner, Bourque urges people to connect with a friend who wants to do it too, or get your kids involved. Also, the one critical mistake she says many new runners make is that they out-distance themselves.

“Consistency is key,” she says. “As is taking breaks and building in recovery time.”

Queen’s Park, Christie Pits, King’s College circle, the Central Tech track, Bickford Park, and the ravine behind Casa Loma are some great places to get started. For more advice, call the shop at (416) 923 9702. The shop’s Facebook page is regularly updated @RunnersSHOPTO.

—Nabahat Hussain/Gleaner News

Tags: Annex · News