5 Things You Should know About Mill City Running
When it comes to specialty running stores in Minnesota, Mill City Running is the baby on the block. Opened in July of 2013, the husband and wife duo of Jeff and Bekah Metzdorff have created a bit of a cult following. I had the chance to talk with them a few weeks ago about what has changed in the year they’ve been open.
“So, so much!” says Jeff, “I feel like in the last year, we were just learning to walk. Now we are finally getting our feet under us.”
“The store has finally filled out - we’ve been able to bring a lot of really cool clothing options for both men and women.” adds Bekah, the other half of the dynamic duo.
Mill City Running has a very special place in my heart. I learned they were opening the day we came home from the hospital with our son. I was ecstatic that their address, 411 E Hennepin Ave in Northeast Minneapolis, was just a few blocks from our house.
As I think back on the last year, indeed much has changed (on a variety of levels). As I have gotten to know Jeff, Bekah and the entire staff, they are some truly amazing people who genuinely care about and want to serve the running community. Mill City Running has grown this year, and will continue to evolve as more and more “newbies quickly become regulars at Mill City Running.” to quote Heather Kampf.
I have a deep respect for all the of the specialty running stores in the Twin Cities. There is good things happening at all of them, but here are five thing I think are especially cool about Mill City Running.
1. Mill City Running has a Unique Selection of Apparel and Shoes
While you won’t find the largest selection of gear or shoes in the Twin Cities at Mill City Running, you will find a carefully curated array of hot items for both men and women. Gone are the days of baggy, non flattering running gear. This stuff looks sweet! Because they are a smaller shop, they can order small size runs. If people like it, they can order more. If not, they can try something different.
This lean approach is part of what made them the “Best Running Style House” in the Star Tribunes “Best Of” list this year.
They now carry pretty much every brand of shoe you may want. From the mainstream, to the smaller brands, they’ve got them.
You can also special order some apparel. Last winter, Bekah helped me find the perfect pair of running tights that they didn’t carry in stock.
Mill City Running Gear!
2. Community Engagement and Group Runs
Group runs are a key component of any running store. It’s a way to encourage others on their journey of fitness, and provide informal coaching and camaraderie. The first time I met Jeff and Bekah, they said, “We want to be a community focused running store that offers multiple ways for those in the community to get involved.”
Today, they offer at least five ways you can get plugged in.
- Tuesday Talks - Every other Tuesday at 7 pm there is some sort of running related “talk”. They also host a group specifically for those just beginning to run.
- Wednesday is a group run, and occasionally a more focused workout.
- Thursday at noon stop by for an easy lunch run.
- Friday at 6:30 am is the famous Flapjack run. Expect about 50 other sleepy eyed runners all ready to run anywhere from 3 - 10 miles, then devour dozens of the best pancakes in the city.
Once a month in the summer, they setup a course for those doing their long run and provide water, encouragement and other goodies as you knock off the miles in preparation for your marathon.
They have also hosted “Ladies night” and “Bro night” which are kind of what you might think. Running related events that cater to men and women, with some sort of theme, and always food.
3. The Mill City Running Race Team
The Mill City Running race team already has over 100 members. It is a great way for you to feel like you’re part of something bigger. When you see a fellow Mill City Running singlet at a race, it’s a sense of pride.
There are nine official races, all part of the USATF Minnesota circuit. For just $35 you get the MCR race singlet, and some race specific training workouts, as well as the chance to be part of a big running family.
A few team member sent me these quotes.:
Sara - “Love the camaraderie and support. Never ran with a team in HS or college (or ran period), so it’s great.”
Kim - I didn’t run until recently and the team has been a wonderful source of support, motivation, and knowledge for how to get better.
Hannah - I think it’s pretty special to be a part of a group that shares something in common… It creates an instant connection with other members of the team who are there to support you in running and in life. I feel lucky to have developed some beautiful friendships through being a part of the Mill City Running race team.
4. Small, Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff
There are only 8 people on staff at Mill City Running. This means they can keep quality control really tight. Each staff member has a deep knowledge of their products and services. “Our staff is really what makes this place go!” says Jeff and Bekah.
They also have a sense for what works and what doesn’t work. The other day at the Flapjack run, I was trying to convince a fellow Asics DS Trainer wearer to switch to the Saucony Kinvara 5’s. As I was going on and on about the shoe, Bekah politely pointed out that those might not be the best for him because he had issues with neutral shoes in the past.
Good lesson to me to let the shoe experts sell the shoes!
5. They Are Not Intimidating
One of the biggest goals Jeff and Bekah had when opening Mill City Running was to give every customer the same, excellent experience and treatment.
Jeff said it doesn’t matter if they’re an Olympian (or aspiring to be), or brand new to running. “We hear far too often that people are reluctant to go into a running store because they’re not a ‘real runner’. We’re hoping to make them feel welcome no matter what their running background or fitness goals might be.”
As an average runner myself, it’s fun to rub shoulders with elites from Team USA Minnesota, as well as offer encouragement those who just started. MCR fosters that type of mutually encouraging environment.
If you haven’t been yet, stop in and say hello. The store looks how you want to run – sleek, efficient and beautiful. The good folks at Mill City Running would love to fit you for a pair of shoes, or serve you some delicious flapjacks on Friday.