Christian's Sports Beat: Back open -- yes!

Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $5.99 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.


Robert Smith of Robert’s Running and Walking Shop, with locations on Charleston’s West Side and Huntington, has reopened his stores for some services after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions for businesses. Courtesy photo

I enjoy running, being outdoors and having fun putting in the miles with friends who also enjoying the sport.

I also enjoy talking about the sport, and one of the best places to discuss the sport of running is Robert’s Running and Walking Shops in either Huntington or Charleston, where the topic is always the number one thing to discuss.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the doors to both Robert’s locations have remained locked due to the order by Gov. Jim Justice, since the running shop wasn’t considered an essential business. By the way, I beg to differ with that thought, but who listens to a 16-year-old these days?

But beginning last week, the shop’s doors were again opened, due to the governor’s reopening order, for the area’s runners and walkers to stop by and pick up some new gear.

The news put a smile on the face of this runner, and I wanted to, as soon as possible, reach out to Robert Smith, a running friend and owner of the running shops.

Before the doors of his shops were closed, there was always something going on inside, which he really missed.

“It has been extremely tough,” Smith said. “I am used to work, and not seeing customers and friends coming through the front door just was really weird. I have been talking to customers by phone or by email, but that just isn’t the same as being face to face, with not only customers but your friends.”

Up until this week, Robert was sending out new shoes through the mail for the customers who knew exactly what they needed, which kept some sales continuing.

One of the best things about the running shop is that you are taken care by runners who truly understand your needs to perform out on the road or trail. Not being able to have his employees with him really affected Robert, who said, “The toughest part of having the doors locked was the fact that I have several people who rely on our business for their livelihoods, so the pressure of that was extremely intense. So it was a struggle, but the doors are open and we are moving forward.”

Robert’s Running and Walking Shop has been awarded the distinguished “Top 50 Running Store” in the nation from Running Insight magazine for three years, including the last two.

While the doors were closed at both of his stores, Robert was clear to point out that he wasn’t alone in feeling the crunch. “This was a struggle that everyone was going through, so it wasn’t like you could be, woe is me — it was everybody that was struggling, everybody (other businesses) could understand everyone’s plight.”

As the saying goes, something good, a lot of times, comes out of something bad, and it looks like this might be the case with the pandemic. While activities due to the “Stay at Home” orders have been limited for everyone from coast to coast, Robert says one thing has picked up and that’s running outdoors.

“There has been a boom in people getting back outdoors, and one way they are doing it is through running, and we are hearing from customers that we haven’t heard from in a while and that’s a great thing.”

For those of you wanting to get back to shopping at Robert’s Running and Walking again, they are back to their normal hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and are taking appointments for individual shoe sizing and are asking everyone who needs that service to call ahead.

It’s been a rough time for everyone during this pandemic, and all I can say is, time for some new shoes and a nice run!

Christian Deiss of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane High School.

Funerals for Friday, June 5, 2020

Holstein Jr., Gary - Noon, streaming live, see obituary.

Moore, Anna - 1 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Smith, Dolan - 11 a.m., Jackson County Memory Gardens, Cottageville.

Tanner, Billy - 4 p.m., Odd Fellows Cemetery, Diana.

Wilson, Rosa - Noon, Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Young, Dollie - 11 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.