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Fleet Feet Sports Brings Essex Runners All the Essentials

By S. Mathur

Buying new shoes is a serious matter, specially when it comes to running shoes. Runners in Burlington, VT and surrounding areas in Chittenden County can rely on advice and help with fitting at Fleet Feet Sports, a specialty store that carries everything needed for running and fitness - footwear, running tops, jackets, shorts, tights, hydration and nutrition systems, medical items and electronics. Beyond shoes and running gear, the store also sponsors races year-round, and partners with a range of local organizations to offer runners all-round support.

Customers at Fleet Feet can expect to have their feet measured and analyzed individually, and to have shoes recommended based on their characteristics. They can also expect to have their gait and stride analyzed by staff before a recommendation is made. Runners are advised to bring along their old running shoes and any special orthotics they use. Along with professionalism and expertise, customers can expect to find a friendly small town vibe. Manager Joel Bissonnette says that "I really enjoy the small town feel of the store. We have great customers who come in and we know their names and develop great relationships."

Bissonnette stresses that shoes should be chosen for their suitability and quality, and not because they have a trendy design or appealing color: "One of the most common mistakes is not being in the correct type of shoe. Most people think that more arch support and more cushioning is better. Being fitted for an appropriate amount of arch support and cushion is more effective. Also, certain brands get negative feedback, when generally it is more about the functionality of the shoe. And finally, color and fashion have zero to do with how the shoe works. If the shoe doesn't work or fit then the color does no good sitting in a closet."

Fleet Feet is actively involved with the local running community and sponsors races every weekend in Vermont and the North Country. These include 5 and 10K races and half marathons, some wth intriguing names like the Frozen Turtle and the Ugly Sweater Runs. To support runners, Fleet Feet partners with the Lake Champlain Running Club, municipal departments, and race management organizations. They also promote health and wellness through collaboration with physical therapists and podiatrists, and with Whole Health Nutrition, a group of Vermont based registered dietitians who provide individualized counseling and education.

The store and its neighborhood are well matched, living up to the stereotypes of Vermonters committed to a healthy lifestyle and outdoor pastimes, with a friendly and supportive attitude. Bissonnette says that "The Chittenden county area is great because it is a very active area. People love to do healthy activities. It helps that people are also very social and friendly. We have a great connection as well, as we try to attend and support many great local races and events. To support people being healthy, we also run a great training program for new runners and experienced runners. For fun we also offer free group runs on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. With all of these great events going on, Fleet Feet tends to fit in very well with the active community."

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