Ready, Set, Geaux
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By Wynce Nolley

New oil center running store aims to take advantage of its proximity to Girard Park.

20110629-Abizturkfile-0101
 Mark Miller, Smitty Smith, Donald Cleveland and Edie Riedel of the new Oil Center running store Geaux Run

 Come mid-July, the Oil Center will add to its merchant mix a store fit for the many joggers, runners, sprinters and marathoners who frequent adjacent Girard Park. For runners, Geaux Run will also be operated by runners.
“We want to be a one-stop shop for trail and road running,” says Smitty Smith, a New Iberia engineer and co-owner of Geaux Run.

“A lot of times when you go into stores you can’t get everything you need in one spot,” Smith says. “You end up having to run all over the place and get your nutrition here and clothes there.”

Smith and his three partners hope the new concept, scheduled to open in mid-July at 906 Harding St. next to Renaissance Market & Brasserie, will become the go-to running store in Lafayette, something the owners say they will achieve by utilizing a single, time-honored technique.
“Hopefully, in time, we’ll have everything the runners need in one area,” Smith says, “and we’re going to do that by listening to the runners and getting feedback and getting them what they need and what they want.”

There is one thing runners might have trouble finding at Geaux Run, the increasingly popular FiveFingers running shoes, which claim to promote a more natural and efficient forefoot strike.

“We’re going to carry minimal shoes but not barefoot,” says co-owner Edie Riedel, who is also a tier I certified run coach through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program. “Unless you’ve been chasing your food down for generations, you don’t need to be running barefoot.”

Smith’s running resumé includes his completion of five IronMan races, two 100 milers, 12 marathons, five 50k trail races, two 50 milers and numerous shorter triathlons.

Riedel’s experience includes five full marathons, one 50k, two 50 milers and a 100 miler. The third partner is Mark Miller, who also owns Pricision Bikes and has completed 22 IronMan races, along with several half IronMan runs and century rides.

The last of Geaux Run’s four founders is local attorney Donald Cleveland, who has completed four IronMan races, one 100-mile trail race, one 50k trail race (about 31 miles), one 50-mile trail race and many shorter distance triathlons.

Clearly, their love of all things running has fueled the concept behind building the store, which they eagerly share while they assemble some of the store’s paneling in anticipation of its first inventory.

“We have passion for our sport,” says Smith.

“Exactly,” Cleveland says, “and so we wanted to bring that passion to the community and allow it to be run by runners. It’s also an opportunity for people to participate in the store and give feedback.”

According to Cleveland, the proximity to Girard Park was a key factor in the decision to build Geaux Run in the Oil Center.

“We want to organize group runs from our store,” Cleveland says. “We want to participate in the regular road races such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It’s a great opportunity to run and it’s a great opportunity to lead a run from our store.”

And if traditional road running doesn’t suit your feet, trail running gear and events will also be available through Geaux Run, which will head up runs in the nearby trails at Chicot State Park and the Kisatchie National Forest.

“We’ve seen a trend of a lot of people willing to do trail running,” says Cleveland. “It’s a different kind of running. It’s a good break during the winter from your regular road races. It presents a different challenge.”

The store’s first project this year, Dec. 3, is a trail race in Chicot State Park called Cajun Coyote, which will consist of 20-, 60-, and 100-mile distances with the store’s owners acting as co-sponsors and race directors.

“We run. A lot,” says Riedel. “We love what we do, and we want to help other people reach their goals, whether it’s a 5k or a 100-miler.”

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