By Scarlett Fox
When strolling through the infamous Square, tourists and citizens alike will find plenty of boutiques and top-notch restaurants. It is in this same area that people will ironically find the only specialty running store in Oxford next to Holly’s Sweet Tooth.
Opening on January 14, 2013, Endurance Athletics has thrived off the passion and dedication of Kevin McGee, a Jackson native and avid triathlete, and his wife, Sandra.
After being challenged by a friend to compete in a triathlon about eight years ago, McGee fell in love with the extensive training and culture surrounding the competitions. Delving into Runners World magazine, triathlete magazines, and online blogs by coaches and professional runners, he began to think about opening a store on the side of his family business, which was commercial printing with his father and two brothers in Jackson.
After marrying his wife of four and a half years, the Ole Miss alumni decided to move back to Sandra’s hometown of Oxford, where the two now own Endurance Athletics.
“We cater to runners, swimmers, and apparel for tennis and cyclists,” said McGee. “Our customer base ranges from the junior high and high school cross country girls and boys, to our elderly that come in and are still walking all the time to get their exercise.”
So what makes Endurance Athletics such a unique business in Oxford? The better question may be, how many stores in Oxford that sell athletic attire take the time to analyze a customer’s foot and walking mechanics (in the store free of charge), then present them with three or four other shoe brands in order to figure out what the best fitted shoe is for that person? If you guessed Endurance Athletics is the only store, you would be correct.
Classified as a “run specialty” store, McGee bases his selection off of brands he has personally used, and the leading companies in the “run specialty” market description, which includes Mizuno, Saucony, Brooks, Asics, Pearl Izumi, and Ultra.
Due to the different materials and cushion that each brand uses, a gate analysis is needed to understand how the customer’s foot hits the ground. This determines what type of special support is needed for each individual foot.
“Once we can get them in and go through the process with them, they’ll come back,” said McGee. “We can help them stay injury free.”
Along with keeping customers free of injuries, local rehab centers have referred patients to Endurance Athletics so they can be fitted in the right shoe to help with the their rehabilitation.
Nutrition is specialty. A client can find a variety of energy-based goos and gel products, or recovery foods that supply minerals, amino acids, carbs and proteins. For those who have questions about the products or who want to try a new one, Endurance Athletics takes the approach of easing them into it, and allows them to try different flavors and brands in order to figure out what type of food they can digest the best.
McGee said that having that little boost of energy and nutrition down right will help people who are about to compete in an event get started.
Although McGee is satisfied with the amount of consistent business he receives, it was not always smooth sailing when they first opened. With January and February of 2013 being an especially cold and icy winter season – to the point schools had to be shut down for two to three days at a time – it was hard for many in Oxford to even leave their homes.
However, the day before Endurance Athletics officially opened, people who did make it to the area were already interested in being personally fitted for a shoe and walking out of the store with a purchase.
It wasn’t until about six months later that Connor McClain, a senior accounting major at Ole Miss, ran by the store over the summer and saw it was open.
Looking for a summer job, McClain brought his resume to McGee and became the first and oldest employee to date. He said it’s the best job he has ever had.
“It’s not the same job every day,” said McClain. “Everyone has a different problem. W hen it comes to running and customizing, what you sell to each customer is a lot of fun. I think it’s great for the community to promote a healthy lifestyle, and it’s just great for Oxford.”
Support for Endurance Athletics continues to stretch into the triathlete community in Oxford, including 505 Multi-Sport that Kevin is a member of.
“He’s got just about everything you need in one location for a multi-sport,” said Alex Powell, a member of 505. “It is convenient, and the prices are great.”
Another new aspect to Oxford, the club began in August of 2011 and allows members the chance to train with all levels of speed and fitness in organized runs, bike rides and swims.
Members even receive discounts from Endurance Athletics and Mercury Wheels, and can attend seminars and lectures that discuss nutrition and basic health (additional information is available on their website at www.505multisport.com).
When asked what his personal mottos are for a healthy lifestyle, McGee pointed to the company’s lingo, “Go the Distance.” He said what really matters is that someone is putting one foot in front of the other to get themselves started.
Whether it is getting off the couch to walk around the block for the first time, or an Iron Man triathlon (a 140.6 mile race), McGee emphasized that whatever a person’s goal is, they can do it by taking one step at a time.
“We want to take care of you and help you start your adventure, whatever it may be,” he said. “We’ll even be here to answer questions to get you what you need, pat you on the back, or push you along the way.”