Fleet Feet Sports-Chicago and Running Away Enterprises jointly announced changes in operational direction today. Fleet Feet confirmed its race management division is being taken over by RAM Racing while the latter’s Deerfield Running Away Multisport store comes under the Fleet Feet Sports- Chicago retail imprimatur.
Fleet Feet Sports and Running Away Enterprises, two locally-owned and long-time leaders in the Chicagoland running community, decided their customers would benefit if each brand streamlined to focus on one aspect of the running community rather than duplicating efforts since each entity was offering both retail sales and race operations.
“When I started Fleet Feet Sports twenty years ago, races were a natural way for us to get introduced to, and established in, the community,” noted Dave Zimmer, President and CEO of Fleet Feet Sports-Chicago. “As the number of Fleet Feet stores grew, so did the number of races we owned and produced."
“We’ve loved bringing the races to the community but we want to continue to get our customers the right shoes, clothing, equipment and advice at our six retail locations (seven when you add the new Deerfield location) and not worry about race logistics which have become a real strength for RAM Racing,” Zimmer explained.
Best known for its 14-city Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Series, RAM Racing has elevated the race day experience for hundreds of thousands of runners over the last 15 years through its portfolio of local and national races and its turnkey ownership of timing, registration and operational systems.
“We have always wanted to set ourselves apart from other race producers by offering our retail customers memorable experiences as well as a seamless operation at RAM Racing events,” said Steve Ginsburg, the company’s CEO. “Over time, as our races became more and more popular it became clear that Running Away Enterprises growth was driven by our race operations and not our retail sales while at Fleet Feet it was the opposite."
“It became apparent to Dave and me that we had arrived at a point where we were both better positioned to deliver even higher quality service to the running community by trading our smaller divisions to each other,” added Ginsburg.
The changes, which are effective immediately, come eleven months to the day after the two friendly competitors announced a partnership that allowed for race packet pick-ups at each other’s stores to make life easier for participants. The Fleet Feet Sports Signature Races that will transfer to the RAM Racing roster include the Soldier Field 10 Mile, The BTN Big 10K, Rudolph Ramble 8K, Magnificent Mile Half Marathon, Pumpkins In The Park 5K and Ravenswood Run 5K.
As of today, RAM Racing will manage the production of these events. Veteran Fleet Feet Sports Race Director Mark Colpoys is taking a position at RAM Racing to ensure a smooth transition — and guarantee the features of these races that runners love will remain consistent. Fleet Feet Sports will remain heavily involved in the RAM Racing events as an Official Sponsor.
“This deal does one thing and one thing only, enhance runners’ experiences giving them more resources for shopping, training, racing and a better registration process,” Zimmer expressed.
“Chicago’s Hot Chocolate Race is one of the largest running events in the country,” continued Zimmer, “so I know that RAM Racing can deliver the kind of atmosphere the running community deserves as it goes forward with even more races in its portfolio.”
Ginsburg added that “Every year since he opened, Zimmer has been the single largest franchisee in the Fleet Feet Sports chain of 162 stores nationwide and I’m excited that endurance athletes in the northwest suburbs can now get an up-close look at his customer-first approach to retail at the Deerfield location.
With its acquisition of the Deerfield store, Fleet Feet Sports-Chicago is taking on one of the Chicago area’s best triathlon and bike stores and a staff with extensive knowledge and experience. Zimmer intends to preserve both. The transition to Fleet Feet Sports-Deerfield begins immediately and continues through the next 30 days.