MILL CREEK — Business owner Shelby Schenck can’t say he misses running competitively. A marathon veteran and Ironman triathlete, Schenck said he could see the writing on the wall of his perceived shortcomings as a runner and it started to feel like a job.
“I thought that when I wa
s done competing, I would be done with running,” he said.
Even though he stopped competing, Schenck couldn’t walk away from the sport. He has 20 years of experience in running — competitively, coaching and now, retail.
Four years ago, in Lynnwood, he opened a retail store for runners called Run26. In mid-December, he relocated to Mill Creek Town Center.
Run26 specializes in running shoes, apparel and nutrition for walkers, beginning runners and seasoned competitors. The staff supports local runners, including high school and college competitors and adults striving to improve their times for local and national races.
Schenck’s family plays a large role in his business.
Schenck’s father, Dale, a licensed massage practitioner, is one of two massage therapists working at the store.
The name of the store has a special meaning for Schenck and his family.
Schenck named the store in honor of his older brother Steve, who died from a brain tumor at the age of 13.
Shelby and Steve share the same birthday of July 26 and the number was Steve’s favorite. After he passed away, the family wore the number in his memory, said Shelby Schenck, standing in front of a newspaper clipping of him wearing “26” on his football jersey.
Schenck began running competitively when he was 18 after his other brother encouraged him to run with him in a marathon to help with pacing. He realized he had a natural talent for running. Since that first race, Schenck competed in other marathons and Ironman races.
Despite a drop during January, running has evolved into a year-round activity and sport with people more inclined to run in groups during the winter for the social aspect, he said. He’s working on forming a running group for adults. By April, Schenck would like to host A Third Thursday Adventure Run where participants have one hour to follow a map and collect tickets for a raffle to win running gear.
“I love the energy of runners,” he said.
Schenck entered the retail arena eight years ago, initially starting out with a store in Redmond before opening Run26 in Lynnwood. During last year’s Run of the Mill race in Mill Creek — of which Run26 is an event sponsor — Schenck noticed a vacant space in the town center. The majority of his customers in Lynnwood were from Snohomish, north Bothell and Mill Creek, so it made sense to move closer to them, he said.
“Runners are much more accepted here,” he said. “Businesses here are really big on supporting each other. There’s a lot of cross-promotion here.”
In addition to the store, Schenck is a track and field and cross country coach at Everett Community College. “I love kids and trying to help them get school paid for,” he said. “I tell them to just go out and live in the moment. If you think too far ahead it becomes overwhelming.”
He also is head coach of a local Team in Training chapter, where in exchange for training for various types of marathons, participants raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Schenk holds bi-weekly runs and clinics to prepare runners for events including the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll, Seattle Rock ‘n Roll or Anchorage Marathon-Half Marathons. In exchange, they fund raise for the Leukemia Society. He is hosting an information meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 26.
Schenck said there’s an emotional pull for the people involved as they or loved ones battle cancer.
“Team in Training is a whole different animal,” he said.