“Honestly, I don’t quite have the energy I had ten years ago,” Cherie Epstein lamented, but she still manages to run several mornings a week, work out at FIT (Fitness Impact Training), run local business Running Wild and mother three teenagers.
Running Wild has been Pensacola’s go-to running and fitness store for 22 years and has expanded to two stores with over 30 team members. But its origin story is simply that two people who were passionate about running had a good idea.
Paul Epstein, a former Army helicopter pilot, saw the need for a running and fitness store when Cherie was teaching and coaching cross country and soccer at Navarre High School.
“Paul came to every single game and meet and we really connected with the kids and parents,” Epstein said. “Paul and I would take the cross country kids to a local big box store to help them find the right running shoes. We found that some of them were spending a lot of money and getting injured because they had the wrong shoe for their need.”
Having no retail or business experience, creating Running Wild required a huge learning curve for the couple.
“What we did have going for us is that we love helping people and are incredibly passionate about running,” Epstein reflected.
Today, Running Wild does a lot of different things in the community besides just selling shoes and shorts.
“We are so fortunate to be able to give back to the community in the form of sponsorships for schools, running events, non-running events and several charities,” Epstein said.
Several years ago, they started an event production business and co-own approximately twelve races. They also time many local races and cross country meets.
The Epsteins have sought to make Running Wild the place to find the right fit for your fitness needs.
“We strive to make a connection with every guest through a detailed consultation,” Epstein said. “With the information from that connection, we’re able to equip them with what they need to meet their own individual goals. When I say individual, I truly mean individual because we are all on our own personal journeys and we all need some encouragement and inspiration.”
"Running has brought many different things to my life over the years. In my teens, it helped keep me out of trouble. In my twenties, it helped keep me focused on undergraduate and graduate school. In my thirties and beyond, it has been my social outlet, coping mechanism for daily stresses and outreach to share with others."
Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cherie and her husband, Paul, have lived in Pensacola for 25 years. Paul worked a short time for a company that brought them here, but, the company did not feed his passion — the Gulf Coast did, so they stayed.
Epstein started running competitively in a middle school PE class. They had to run one mile per week and she loved it. She set personal goals every week.
“Running has brought many different things to my life over the years,” Epstein said. “In my teens, it helped keep me out of trouble. In my twenties, it helped keep me focused on undergraduate and graduate school. In my thirties and beyond, it has been my social outlet, coping mechanism for daily stresses and outreach to share with others.”
In addition to running, her hobbies include alpine skiing, mountain biking and watching her daughters play volleyball.
WHERE TO SHOP
Running Wild , 3012 E. Cervantes St., Pensacola; 850-435-9222; 214 Fairhope Ave., Fairhope, Ala.; 251-990-4412; werunwild.com
Physical therapist, Dr. Lynn Virant, and massage therapist, Karoline Brown, on staff at Pensacola location.
Brands carried: lululemon, Vuori, Rabbit, ON, Glyder, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance and many more.