If you ask a local in Bend, Oregon, about the best spot to pick up a pair of running shoes, they’re likely to mention FootZone. Located in Downtown Bend, FootZone has been the go-to since 1995 if you need shoes, want to talk to experts or just need to grab a handful of gels before heading out for a run.
Bend has a rich running culture with miles of trails, and many elite trail runners call Bend home. Even elite road runners like Shalane Flanagan (winner of the 2017 New York City marathon) and Ian Sharman have spent time in Bend. The seemingly infinite miles of trails make this a spot that outdoor lovers can’t miss.
The shop is run by Teague Hatfield, who has been involved since the very beginning — “I’ve owned it since 1999, but have been here since day one,” he says.
FootZone opened when running was just starting to become a thing to do, and specialty running stores began to pop up around that time — catering to audiences in larger cities first, then seeping into the suburbs. Back then, Bend was only about 32,000-33,000 people, and there was a need for an approachable store that was going to tell you exactly what you needed. “We were the first ones in Bend to do the specialty run-thing,” Hatfield explains. “I had been exposed to that up through Bellingham and Seattle, and I was getting into running at the time and loved everything about it — whether it be the biomechanical-side or fit-side, customer service or retail-side, all of them worked for me.”
Despite enjoying all aspects of buying and selling running shoes, Hatfield wasn’t a big runner growing up. “I was a team sports guy in high school and early college, and running for me was something I started doing because I needed to stay active,” he says. “Most people realize along the way that really what’s best about [running] is that it makes you a happier person, [and] helps you manage the rest of your life.”
While Bend may have been on the smaller side when FootZone opened up, it’s now a buzzing town with elite runners in the area 365-days a year. “Stephanie Howe (ultra trail runner), Ian Sharman (now an ultrarunning coach), Mario Mendoza (five-time USA Trail National Champion) and Denise Bourassa (ultramarathoner) all used to live here and all kinds of triathletes like Linsey Corbin and Heather Jackson,” Hatfield says. Luckily, many of the athletes are willing to stop by the store for a special occasion, give a talk and even work in the store. “Max King runs a workout for us and even works on the floor.” The ultramarathoner leads a Tuesday night performance group. When superhero Shalane Flanagan’s second book with Elyse Kopecky came out, both happened to be in Bend to the benefit of the locals. “We had the pleasure to host Shalane and Elyse for events to celebrate the kickoff of their book, but also, let’s face it, Shalane’s a pretty unique one as far as the running community goes.” She was the first American female to win the New York City marathon since 1977 — at 37 years of age. “Her success as a US runner is amazing. We love it at the shop and our community loves it.”
You’ll catch Hatfield hosting a handful of events each year (in addition to weekly workouts and group runs), including the heavily attended and competitive ‘I Like Pie’ event, which is held around Thanksgiving. It epitomizes what the running store stands for. “It doesn’t allow people to take themselves too seriously. The pie baking contest is probably more serious than any type of competition in the event itself,” Hatfield says. The second Sunday in June, FootZone will host its 19th annual Dirty Half. When the event first started, there weren’t many trail running events in the Northwest that were under 50K (roughly 31 miles). “We were just trying to do something that was fun and have a beer after,” Hatfield says.
Teague Hatfield’s Gear Picks
Topo Ultraventure Trail Shoe
“Topo’s an emerging brand making some great-fitting shoes and the Ultraventure is maybe its best shoe yet with awesome traction and plenty of cushion and protection for most runners.”
Brooks Levitate 2
“The Levitate continues to impress with a durable, responsive polyurethane midsole for cushioning that is truly unique.”
Patagonia Airshed Pullover
“Not quite a shirt, not quite a jacket, but the perfect layer for (the majority of the time) when you don’t need a fully waterproof jacket.”
“Standard fuel for many endurance-minded folks here at FootZone. Calories and electrolytes in one handy drink mix that doesn’t mess with your gut.”
“Now in three styles, these are colorful, light, comfortable and priced so you get a pair for everyone.”
Every city has a few amazing watering holes to check out — especially if you’re a runner. Top-notch running stores definitely make the list. Read the Story