New store owner believes running is recession-proof

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April 13, 2010
— Tawnya Hagen is betting there is more boom than bust in the running shoe business.

Hagen of Edgerton will host the grand opening of her new business, All Season Runner, at 20 South Jackson with a fun run and walk, beverages, food and door prizes this Saturday, just two days before the 114th Boston Marathon.

On Monday, April 19, the City of Boston will host 25,000 runners for the historic 26-mile, 385-yard run from Hopkinton to Copley Square. From Hagen’s perspective that’s 25,000 quality pairs of shoes on 50,000 feet.

Of course all 25,000 Boston entrants are not going to at Hagen’s store immediately after the race to buy new shoes. The point is Hagen believes running is still a big ticket item, even in recession-plagued Rock County.

“People just didn’t believe there was enough business, but I did,” said Hagen, who has planned for the running shoe store for the past four years. “There are a lot of prominent law offices down here, we have the hospital and the next hospital coming and there are some big companies around here.

“If I run this company properly, I should be here a long time,” Hagen added.

The 39 year-old Hagen is a registered nurse who started running in 1998 after the births of her son, Jared, and daughter, Abby.

“I ran to lose weight after having two babies back-to-back,” Hagen said. “I ran a half mile one day and a week later I ran six miles and I decided to sign-up for a marathon.’’

Hagen ran four marathons between 1998 and ’99. She has finished eight marathons overall and completed the 2003 Ironman Wisconsin in 14 hours, 42 minutes and 29 seconds.

“I met my husband (Martin) at the Ironman,” Hagen said. “We were married in 2005.’’

Hagen joined a running club,and it went to a Moving Shoes in Madison for shoes.

“That’s when I got kind of obsessed with running shoes, and the whole experience,” Hagen said.

Among Hagen’s goals is to qualify for Boston and run a 50-mile ultra-marathon.

“That’s in the goals, but I have to turn 40 first,” Hagen said. “I get five more minutes (toward qualifying for Boston). “That’s the beauty of the Boston, you get more time to qualify as you get older.’’

Kitty Cole of Janesville is All Season Runner’s marketing director. A long-time runner and fitness teacher, Cole recently completed her quest to run in marathons on seven continents.

Cole will organize promotions and help the Rock Aqua Jays organize the Janesville Triathlon in July. All Season Runner is a sponsor for the event.

Hagen and Cole have the practical experience to help the advanced runners and the novice. Hagen wants the business to appeal to all levels of runners.

“If you notice on the (store) sign, it says walking, running and triathlon,” Hagen said. “I want this store to be appealing to all levels.

“I received a very nice letter, saying they didn’t feel intimidated coming here,” Hagen said. “That was part of my goal when I opened, I didn’t want it to be just elite athletes.’’

Hagen wants her store to become a fixture in Janesville.

“I want to be here until I retire,” Hagen said. “I’d like to start a running club for triathlons, fun runs and walks, yoga after store hours and lectures on running and training.’’

It’s for sure 25,000 Boston Marathon runners won’t decend on her store, but maybe Gary Clark, Lisa Dambach, Sue Gray, Jim Hutchinson and Francis Russo all of Janesville who are entered in next Monday’s Boston will stop in and get acquainted.

And the not-so-avid runner can get started with some savvy advice from Hagen and Cole.

“You just need motivation to start—and a good pair of shoe,” Hagen said.

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