Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Party Like It's 1999

Flash back 10 years ago to 1999. Lance Armstrong won his first of seven Tour de France victories; he was practically a no-name then. Turin, Italy was named as the host of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. In the pool, men's freestyle events, specifically the 200 and 400 meters, suddenly became all about the Thorpedo as Ian Thorpe crushed the longest-standing world record in the 200 free at the FINA Short Course World Championships.

Meanwhile, a little closer to home, the Chicago Marathon was still called the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, the running store Vertel's was still in operation, the Chicago Triathlon had yet to set a Guinness World Record for the largest triathlon, people were still running the Park Forest Scenic 10-miler, and Chicago marathoners not only had the fall classic but they could also run the popular Lake County Marathon in the spring, to name a few.

Also close to home, Universal Sole, a running store, was setting up shop in the Lakeview neighborhood on Lincoln near Paulina and Roscoe and a quick walk from the Paulina stop on the Brown Line. Paul Peters--a runner who made his mark at Gordon Tech and Indiana University (read more about Peters here)--was at the helm, introducing running to a community north of downtown where you'd find Vertel's and north of Piper's Alley where Fleet Feet was also just getting on its feet. Some people probably doubted the store would survive but Peters worked the grassroots angle to create a name for Universal Sole at local races with a fast running team and on the local race scene by running events that became local favorites like the Lakefront 10 and the New Year's Resolution Run.

That little store that could is turning 10 years old this month. And while the man who started it all, sold the store last year to Joel Feinberg, Universal Sole is still alive and kicking at 3052 N. Lincoln, a few blocks up from its old location. The good news is that the store has events planned throughout September to celebrate its anniversary, from fun runs to weekly specials to raffle prizes. Tune in for the anniversary party this Thursday, September 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. where you could win some raffle prizes from Saucony, Brooks, Mizuno and Adidas. Or join in the fun run series held each Monday until the end of the month (the first run was held yesterday due to Labor Day) beginning at 6:15 p.m. Runners meet at the store, head out for a refreshing post-work run, and reconvene at the store to cool down and listen for their names to be called in the raffle. September 8 is the Adidas Fun Run (sorry this one has already passed), September 14 is the Mizuno Fun Run, September 21 is the Saucony Fun Run where the Saucony van will also make an appearance, and September 28 is the Brooks Fun Run. These vendors will be raffling off some cool prizes after every run including technical tees.

Happy Birthday, Universal Sole! Photo grabbed from gotbrimmed at flickr. Posted by Kate

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