Chris Farley is a native Arlingtonian who had a knack for running and turned it into a thriving local business.
Farley, the owner and co-founder of Pacers Running, talked with us about how he and his parents bought a local running store and worked hard to grow it to a small chain that also organizes local races.
On this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast we also ask Farley about his podcast, Pace the Nation, and about some of his well-known clients. Be sure to stay tuned to the end for a discussion about the challenging retail climate in Arlington County and how e-commerce is impacting local businesses.
Those running the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 30 now have an alternative to picking up their race packets at National Harbor this year.
The new packet pickup location has some worried about crowds at the Maryland shopping, entertainment and tourism destination, which is not Metrorail accessible. In response, local running store Pacers has made a deal to pick up packets for customers and bring them to Pacers locations, including the store at 3100 Clarendon Blvd in Clarendon.
The catch: you have to buy at least $125 in Brooks running gear — including Marine Corps Marathon apparel, which will be available — at Pacers between Sept. 28 and Oct. 24 to be eligible.
Pacers will also be holding mini-expos at the company’s Clarendon and Navy Yard stores just before the marathon.
“We will be hosting expotiques at Pacers Navy Yard and Pacers Clarendon on Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 with all the great last minute essentials and great deals you expect at the expo — just without the massive crowds and travel headaches!” Pacers said on its website. “And for those of you who participate in our packet pick up program, we’ll have your packet waiting for you with a smile.”
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Pacers Running may not be a startup, but it is using digital media to connect with customers in an innovative way more akin to a tech startup than a small specialty retailer.
Since April 2015, Pacers has been extending its reach with a podcast called Pace the Nation. While podcasts aren’t new, they have increased in popularity and influence since Serial helped to reinvigorate the format.
Pace the Nation is a weekly running podcast recorded by a trio of Pacers familiar faces: Chris Farley, who co-owns the chain of stores, Joanna Russo, who manages the Navy Yard store in D.C., and William Docs, a former college teammate of Farley. The show often features special guests, from local high school cross country coaches to elite athletes like Matthew Centrowitz, who won Olympic gold in Rio in the 1500 meter.
Pacers was founded in 1991 in Alexandria, and has since grown to five local stores in the District and Virginia, as well as a location in Princeton, N.J. Russo said the podcast is a way to still maintain a personal relationship with shoppers as the business branches out.
“It started as one family-owned business and it’s grown to five in the area and one in Princeton,” she said. “When you start to get bigger, it helps people still connect with us if we were still that one storefront.”
The podcast, which launched in April 2015, at first had just a handful of listeners – mostly family members and people who were fans of the store – but now regularly gets about 1,000 listeners every week, Farley said.
Docs said that the listeners are his favorite part of the show.
“I think the coolest thing about the whole podcast for me is the community that it’s built. We have some people who never miss an episode, they tweet to us, they come out to social events,” he said.
Many of the show’s listeners are active in the local running community — they who sign up for local 5Ks and marathons, who join running groups and train all year round. One of Pace the Nation’s devoted fans, Annie Hughes, said that she has been listening to the podcast for a little over a year and looks forward to the new episodes every Monday.
“Arlington can often seem big and impersonal, but PTN showcases the vibrant running community here and invites the listeners to be a part of it,” she said. “When Farley and Docs speak about their favorite running trails, I can immediately relate, as I run those trails too.”
(Today’s Pace the Nation episode — No. 74 — features Marine Corps Marathon Race Director Rick Nealis.)
Hughes said she also loves the show’s non-running discussions, including conversations about dogs, books and Uber woes — something to which all locals can relate.
The podcast started as a way to just “spread the gospel of running,” Farley said. Even now that it’s attracted quite a following, Farley said its primary purpose isn’t to increase sales or drive business to the store.
“This really gives us this platform that really tells our brand story,” he said. “It gives a look into our personalities and who we are and I think makes us more relatable. I think when you get more people to relate to you and to like you, they’re more likely to do business with you. But that’s not even the goal of the show, to ring the register. It’s really to truly inspire people to get out and run.”
The Pacers Clarendon store (3100 Clarendon Blvd) will soon include a new studio for the podcast, with a window to the street so passersby can see the podcast hosts in action, according to Farley. He said he chose to base the show in the Arlington store because of the large number of runners in Arlington, and because it’s the place he’s called home for nearly his entire life.
“I think I’m sort of a rare breed in that I actually grew up here and now live here,” he said. “I definitely make that known on the show, that I am very proud of being an Arlingtonian.”
Crystal City will host the annual Crystal City Twilighter 5K race on Saturday, July 23.
The race, organized by Pacers, will kick off at 8:30 p.m. The relatively flat course will start and finish will be in front of 2121 Crystal Drive.
There will also be a post-race party with food and drink specials at local restaurants. Cash prizes will be awarded to overall male and female runners. Age groups ranging from 1-10 and 80+ will also be given prizes.
Registration is $45 for adults over the age of 18, but $25 for those 18 and younger. Space is limited to 3,000 runners.
Disclosure: The run is sponsored by the Crystal City BID, an ARLnow.com advertiser.
It’s March 1 — Not only is today the first day of March, with spring (March 20) and Daylight Saving Time (March 13) around the corner, but it’s also the Super Tuesday presidential primary day here in Virginia. Arlington’s 52 polling places opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
Committee of 100 to Discuss Racial Tensions — On Wednesday, March 9, the Arlington Committee of 100 will hold a discussion entitled “Are Arlington’s Police and Justice Systems Prepared to Respond to Community and Racial Tensions?” Among the speakers are Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Police Chief Jay Farr. [InsideNova]
It’s a Good Time to Lease an Office in Arlington — D.C.-based commercial real estate firm West, Lane & Schlager is advising companies to consider leasing office space in Arlington in the near future. The firm says the D.C. area is definitely a tenant’s market at the moment, but the tide will eventually turn. With vacancy rates stabilizing, companies can take advantage of lease concessions now, before the market turns in favor of landlords, the firm says. [Patch]
Four Courts Four Miler Coming Up — The popular annual Four Courts Four Miler race will take place Saturday morning, March 12. Registration is currently $40 and will, in part, benefit the Arlington County Police Benevolent Fund. As in previous years, those who beat the runner dressed up as a leprechaun — Ireland’s Four Courts manager Dave Cahill, a 3:10 marathon runner — will get a special gift from the pub. [Pacers Running]
Crystal City’s upcoming, eighth annual Twilighter 5K will give runners the opportunity to pound the pavement in the cooler hours of a summer evening.
The race is scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. The relatively flat course will start and finish at 2121 Crystal Drive, between 20th and 23rd Streets.
The opportunity for a twilight run isn’t the event’s only selling point: there will also be a post-race party with deals on drinks and food at several local establishments, as well as cash prizes for the course’s top finishers.
Pacers, the run organizer, is billing the race as a great way for high school cross country runners or teams to get energized for the upcoming season. Runners can sign up online; registration is $40 for adults and $20 for high school students.
Photo via Crystal City BID
This Sunday marks the second annual “Freedom Four” race, which will result in some road closures in the Rosslyn and Courthouse areas.
To accommodate the four-mile course, the Arlington County Police Department will be closing roads sections of Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and Route 110 on June 28 (below). All roads are expected to be open to traffic after 10:30 a.m.
Between 6:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from N. Courthouse Road to N. Rhodes Street.
Between 7:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from from Route 110 to N. Courthouse Road. Courthouse road will remain open. Again from 7:45 to 10:30 a.m., Route 110 Northbound will be closed from I-395 to I-66.
Parking in the area will be also be restricted during the race, and drivers should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. According to the ACPD, illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed.
The U.S. Track & Field-certified course will start and finish on Wilson Boulevard, near the restaurant Ireland’s Four Courts. The race begins promptly at 8 a.m., and participants are advised to arrive early.
Photo via Pacers Running.
A new four-mile race will be held this Sunday morning from Courthouse down through Rosslyn and on Route 110.
The Freedom Four Miler is being organized by Pacers in partnership with Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 Wilson Blvd), which also serves as the race’s start and finish line. The race will begin at 8:00 a.m. and registration is $40.
It’s the inaugural running of the race, and it replaces the former Let Freedom Run 5K held in Fairfax County as the Fourth of July race in Pacers’ race offerings, according to Pacers Race Director Lisa Reeves.
The race now becomes the second four-miler Pacers holds in Arlington with Four Courts, pairing with the annual Four Courts Four-Miler held on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Both four milers have the same basic course — a straight-line, turnaround course, traveling down Wilson Blvd and continuing on Route 110 before turning back in between Rosslyn and the Pentagon. The Arlington County Police Department has yet to announced the official street closures and times, but Reeves said roads will be closed on a rolling basis following the course. All roads should be fully open by 9:00 a.m., Reeves said, and closures will begin to go into effect at around 7:45 a.m.
“It’s a celebration-type race, that’s really what it’s all about,” Reeves said. “Having a good time with your friends and everything. We always encourage people to wear costumes, and we’ll have a photo booth with props like an Uncle Sam hat for runners and spectators to pose with.”
With a little more than a week until Valentine’s Day (February 14), now is a good time to make some plans so all the good reservations aren’t taken. Many restaurants offer special menus for the big day, but there are plenty of other options for celebrating in Arlington besides going out to dinner.
Here is a sampling of some of the more unique ways to treat your Valentine:
- Sip on a special cocktail at TNT Bar‘s (2413 Columbia Pike) “My Bloody Valentine” event, featuring cocktails inspired by “terrible horror movies.” Drinks such as the “Candyman 1992” and “Love Object 2003” can be purchased individually or as part of a tasting menu for two.
- Put on your skates and hold hands while taking a few laps around the ice skating rink at Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street). The rink is open until 10:00 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
- Pacers is spreading the love a little early, with the Love the Run You’re With 5K on Sunday (February 10). Runners will receive colored bibs based on their relationship status — green for single, red for in a relationship and yellow for “it’s complicated.” The race begins at 9:00 a.m. at Pentagon Row and costs $40. Registration is available online.
- Valentine’s Day isn’t just for adults. Teens are invited to take part in the Broken Hearts Party at the Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) on February 14. The celebration of love, affection and loss will include decorating broken heart cookies, playing trivia games, listening to music and rating which tear-jerker books require the most tissues. The free event runs from 4:00-6:00 p.m.
- Hire a singing telegram from Potomac Harmony Chorus. A women’s quartet will sing two songs for your loved one and present him or her with a card and box of candy. Pricing is available online. All orders must be placed by this Friday, February 8.
- The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is serving up wine, comedy and two showings of The Princess Bride. For $8, customers can take in a stand-up comedy show followed by a viewing of The Princess Bride. Tickets are available online for both the 7:00 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. events. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for an optional wine tasting.
Kathy Dalby, founder of the race organizing arm of Pacers Running Stores, says she’s noticing what may be an upward trend in female joggers being subject to assaults, inappropriate touching and other such attacks. Just this morning a female jogger was “mugged” in Rosslyn near Route 50, according to Dalby.
“As a running store, we are getting concerned about the number of attacks on women runners in Arlington,” she said.
The last such attack happened on Sept. 29, when a 37-year-old woman was knocked to the ground, kicked and touched in a sexual manner on Army Navy Drive in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood.
Dalby suggested that female runners protect themselves by finding a running group or by taking extra precautions when running alone.
“We advocate running with a group and not wearing headphones if by yourself,” she said.
Arlington County Police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal said she hasn’t noticed any pronounced increase in assaults or sexual batteries on female joggers. She said incidents of women being touched inappropriately while jogging usually go down during cold weather months.
Flickr pool photo by Picture Prefect
Online registration is now closed for this year’s Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K, but runners can still register in person over the next three days.
The race, which was started by two Arlington police officers in 2002, will be held Saturday in Pentagon City. Thousands of runners are expected to participate.
Team and online registration is closed, but anyone interested in participating can register in person today at Pacers Running Store in Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd) between noon and 8:00 p.m.
On Thursday, in person registration will take place at the Pacers store in Pentagon City (1101 South Joyce Street) from noon to 9:00 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday it will take place at the DoubleTree Hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive). The cost of registration is $30 now, $35 on race day.
The race will kick off from the DoubleTree at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Fifteen minutes before the race, Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington) will dedicate part of Washington Boulevard as “9/11 Heroes Memorial Highway.”
A number of roads around Arlington will be closed between 6:00 and 11:00 Sunday morning for the Pacers Running Festival half marathon.
Among the closures:
- The 1000 block of Wilson Boulevard
- Southbound lane of Route 110
- The Northbound exit from Route 110 to Wilson Boulevard
- Rt. 27 (Washington Boulevard) in both directions from I-395 and Washington Boulevard to the Pentagon
- Columbia Pike at Pentagon South Parking