Jason Braswell has been a busy man lately, and four letters have occupied most of his time. H-i-l-o.
Braswell’s Big Island Running Company recently opened its doors in Hilo, and the store’s next goal is to open its heart to the East Hawaii running community.
“We really stress to everyone — strollers, walkers, kids — if you’ve never put on a running shoe, we want to educate you. We want to get you out there,” Cary Aurand said from the store she manages at 308 Kamehameha Ave.
“For the advanced (runners). We want to help you, too. It’s about getting the community active and together. We’re about making friends and momories.”
Under the motto “Run Big,” Braswell and his wife, Melissa, owned two stores in Kailua-Kona. Aurand said they often heard a common refrain from East Hawaii visitors.
“We need one in Hilo, we need one in Hilo” she said.
So Jason Braswell started printing and pressing new apparel, and the company’s third store now occupies the space formerly held by Mokupapapa Discovery Center.
It opened July 9, though the formal grand opening is Friday and Saturday.
“The reception has been really good. People tell us they’re glad we’re here,” Aurand said.
The company hails itself as the island’s only specialty running story, and Rick Otani, president of Hilo-based Big Island Road Runners, agrees.
The days of runners having to visit Kona to find what they need are over, he said.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Having them here, with knowledgable people working in the stores, it’s a huge plus for the running community.”
Aurand said Sports Authority is her store’s primary competition, but Otani said Big Island Running Company has no competiton when it comes to customer service.
“Plus, the apparel is great,” he said.
Sure, Big Island Running Company sells shoes, shirts, sunglasses, visors, etc. like every place else.
But Aurand said Video Gait analysis is what sets her company apart. Through the program, the store will tape runners on a treadmill to diagnose their specific footware needs.
“We can give a one-on-one assessment,” she said. “We can find what you’re doing and put you in the right shoe.”
But fitting consumers is only one of the Braswell’s missions. They also want to get consumers fit.
On Wednesday, the company started its casual, twice-a-week, come-all training runs, a free program which will also be held on Saturdays.
“Anyone who is looking for a running partner and wants to learn about running,” Aurand said. “It’s going to take some word-of-mouth to get it going. When we started it in Kona, there was a day when only one person showed up. You keep building and building.”
Running concurrently, the company’s Couch to 5K program, led by Hilo’s DJ Blinn, is exactly as it reads: get up, go, reach the finish line.
In this case, the end run is BIRR’s Hilo Bay 5K on Sept. 7.
“Anything that supports health in the community and excercise and activity is always a plus,” Otani said.
For advanced runners, the store is also planning a training group for the Honolulu Marathon in December.
“From beginners to all levels,” Aurand said. “We’ll do nutrition talks, talk about injury prevention. Everything.”
For more, visit bigislandrunningcompany.com.