It all began on a run.
After graduating from Slippery Rock University in 2001, my friend Mike Habalar asked me if I wanted to do a trail race called the Double Trouble with Pretzel City Sports. I agreed and we were hooked on trail running. It was the perfect sport for two soccer hacks. The next race he guinea pigged was the inaugural Hyner Challenge. You'll have to ask him about how that went, but after hearing his story I had to try it. 10 years later, we're are still doing the Hyner and we've recruited more SRU soccer alums, friends, and family to share in the pain and awesomeness that is the Hyner Challenge.
In 2016 I thought I'd make some hats for my buddies at the Hyner. The idea came to me while training on the trails in Mt. Gretna and this idea was what is now "The Original". When I looked into the hats, I had to order a minimum of 24. I thought to myself "I'll just sell the ones I don't give out." So I gave those first hats out before the race. Then after completing the race I saw fellow SRU alum Matt Lipsey who was already showered and changed after his win and I gave him a lid. Eric Marshall liked what he saw and he got one as well. So I had maybe 12 left, and I made a cardboard sign with a sharpie that said, "$10 or whatever you think they're worth." This was my first lesson in business, because I greatly underestimated the market!
Those 24 "original" hats were photographed and shared on social media. Lipsey, to this day, refuses to wear another RunPA hat. After the shares, the questions were asked, "Where did you get that hat?!" Now, I had to figure out a way for distribution, so I started an Etsy store. Etsy served it's purpose and allowed me to expand and meet more customers.
After the Etsy site got going I decided to set up at some races and create a website. RunPA.org was born and the first race I set up at was 2016 Blues Cruise with Stephan Weiss and Uberendurancesports. It was perfect because it was my first ultra race and I figured I'd set up the RunPA awning when I was finished. And, boy am I glad I did because that was when I met Mary Arnold who told me about the November Project meet up that was happening at the Runners World Half in Bethlehem. She gave me Suzanne Allaire's info who works at Runners World and this is where it starts to get nutty. I don't know who wore what or when, or where. I just know that somebody wore the RunPA Dreamsicle to work at Runners World and they wanted me to send them a shirt for the June 2017 article. Since then, I have met SO many great people. I have found the running community to be some of the most honest and genuine people I have ever met. RunPA continues to grow and develop new ideas and designs based on what Pennsylvania runners want. I love seeing pics of the trademarked RunPA logo all over the world. It's truly amazing when I think back to how it all began.
*RunPA.org is a for profit LLC. The .org designation is no longer specifically designated for non-profits. While saying that we continue to donate to local clubs, environmental organizations, and members of trail organizations.
The RunPA logo is a registered trademark.
Who is Fritz VonRagermeister and why is he sending me a friend request?
Fritz VonRagermeister is a name/character I came up with to try and keep some fencing between my running life and my personal and professional life. In an attempt to market RunPA, Fritz is trying to meet new friends through running groups in Pennsylvania. You never know who you'll meet on social media, but I can assure you that Fritz is an honest guy who wants to make sure that you the customer have the best experience possible when purchasing RunPA apparel. He sometimes will even write you a note. :)
- Mike Reager