Holappa confesses that a lot of memories of Ann Arbor running history have been shaken loose in the last few months as she's moved her personal library of running books and vintage posters out of the old store. These days, she says, running is less competitive: "a lot more women, a lot more running groups." In fact, she worries that it's been made to look like too much fun: "We need to try to make people more fit to do these events. It's much more of a slow process than people realize." Matt agrees: "Running is like the martial arts. You don't just show up and get your black belt." They regularly host running clinics at the Traver Village store featuring physical therapist Pete Kitto and orthopedic surgeon John Anderson, both runners.
Sometimes the Holappas sound more like community organizers than store owners. A conversation with them never seems to get around to their retail offerings. (For the record, they sell shoes from $85 to $140, with a lot of attention devoted to fit, and gear that they describe as having proven technical merits rather than just a cool look.) Instead, it turns to events, clubs, people, philosophies, methods, and books. The Holappas like to refer beginning runners--especially the overweight or those who have never exercised--to local celebrity (and Matt's good friend) Pete Thomas, one of the original contestants on NBC's Biggest Loser. "He was at fifty percent body fat and now he's at six," says Matt. "He's one of the fittest human beings I know. He has dedicated his life to getting people fit."
Tortoise and Hare, 2631 Plymouth Rd. (Traver Village). 623-9640. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.