Top Shops: The 50 Best Running Specialty Stores In America For 2014

Running Central in Peoria, Ill., is one of the largest and most stunning running shops in the U.S. It is also one of the four finalists for the 2014 Running Store of the Year honor that will be awarded on Dec. 4 at The Running Event trade show in Austin, Texas. Photo: Running Insight

Running Central in Peoria, Ill., is one of the largest and most stunning running shops in the U.S. It is also one of the four finalists for the 2014 Running Store of the Year honor that will be awarded on Dec. 4. Photo: Running Insight

There are a lot of great running shops across the country, but every year a select few stand out among the rest. 

The best running stores in the U.S. offer exemplary customer service for every type of runner, organize training programs, group runs and local races, and provide knowledge and insights about the latest trends, the newest gear, proper running form, local trails and injury prevention. In other words, it’s much more about spreading the joy and passion of running than it is about selling new shoes and gear.

Every year, Competitor magazine partners with Running Insight trade magazine to identify the 50 Best Running Stores in America. It starts with readers nominating their favorite shops on Competitor.com. Then there is a rigorous evaluation process, which includes runner nominations, mystery shopping to assess customer service, credit ratings from vendors, and assessments about local programs and community commitment.

Which running shop is the best in the country for 2014? The Columbus Running Company was named The Running Store of the Year for 2014 on Dec. 4 at an industry-only trade show in Austin, Texas. Here’s a glimpse of the four finalists and all of the shops earning the 50 Best Running Stores in America seal of approval for 2014.

RELATED: 10 Reasons To Shop At A Running Specialty Store

The Four Finalists

Here are the four stores chosen as finalists for the 2014 Running Store of the Year honor that will be awarded on Dec. 4.

Columbus Running Company – Dublin and Columbus, Ohio

Fleet Feet Baltimore - Baltimore, Maryland

Running Central - Peoria, Illinois

Track Shack - Orlando, Florida

RELATED: Past Winners Of The Running Store Of The Year Honors

The 50 Best Running Stores In America For 2014

Here is the entire list of the 50 Best Running Stores in the U.S. for 2014 based on 20 criteria, including retail environment, shoe-fitting, checkout process, credit worthiness and community service.

Alabama
- Fleet Feet Huntsville, Huntsville

Alaska
- Skinny Raven, Anchorage

Arkansas
- Rush Running Company, Bentonville

Arizona
- Fleet Feet Tucson, Tucson
- Sole Sports, Tempe
- Tortoise & Hare Sports, Glendale

California
- Sole 2 Soul, Visalia

Florida
- Fit Niche, Lakeland
- Fleet Feet Stuart, Stuart
- Jacksonville Running Company, Jacksonville
- Running Zone, Melbourne
- St. Petersburg Running Company, St. Petersburg
- Track Shack, Orlando

Georgia
- Big Peach Running Company, Atlanta
- Classic City Running, Buford
- West Stride, Atlanta

Idaho
- Schu’s Idaho Running Company, Boise

Illinois
- Dick Pond Athletics, Schaumburg
- Fleet Feet Chicago, Chicago
- Geneva Running Outfitters, Geneva
- Naperville Running Company, Naperville
- Running Central, Peoria

Indiana
- Fleet Feet Schererville, Schererville
- Runner’s Forum, Indianapolis
- Three Rivers Running, Fort Wayne
- Tri-N-Run, Lafayette

Kentucky
- Tri State Running, Edgewood

Louisiana
- Sports Spectrum, Shreveport

Maine
- Maine Running Company, Portland

Maryland
- Charm City Run, Timonium
- Fleet Feet Baltimore, Baltimore

Massachusetts
- Whirlaway Sports, Methuen

Michigan
- Playmakers, Okemos

Missouri
- Big River Running Company, St. Louis
- The Running Well Store, Kansas City
- Ultra Max, Columbia

Montana
- Runner’s Edge, Missoula

Nebraska
- Red Dirt Running, Omaha

New Hampshire
- Runner’s Alley, Portsmouth

New Mexico
- Bosque Running, Albuquerque

New York
- Fleet Feet Rochester, Rochester
- Fleet Feet Syracuse, East Syracuse

North Carolina
- Charlotte Running Co, Charlotte

Ohio
- Columbus Running Company, Dublin
- Vertical Runner, Hudson

Oklahoma
- Red Coyote Running, Oklahoma City

Pennsylvania
- Emmaus Run Inn, Emmaus

Rhode Island
- Rhode Runner, Providence

Tennessee
- Fleet Feet Brentwood, Brentwood

Texas
- IRun Texas, San Antonio
- Luke’s Locker, Dallas

Utah
- Salt Lake Running, Salt Lake City

Virginia
- Pacers, Arlington

Wisconsin
- Performance Running Outfitters, Brookfield

RELATED: Naperville Running Co. Named Best Running Store In America For 2013

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