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Business Profile

Runner's Soul

80 percent of success is showing up.

This saying, most often attributed to Woody Allen, serves as an apt description of Curt Kinghorn’s role in Spokane’s famed distance running scene. Just show up. And keep showing up. For decades.

In Kinghorn’s case, he’s not just showing up to show up: he’s involved. He cares. Volunteering to help measure out a high school cross country course before the big meet. Timing the runners, helping organize the start or the finish. Promoting an upcoming 10K or giving injury-prevention tips on the radio. Preparing a big Italian dinner or breakfast feast to kick off a college running camp. Helping caravan groups of young runners down to California for the race of their lives: the Foot Locker Invitational.

And oh yeah: owning iconic Spokane specialty stores Runners Soul (1999-present with locations downtown and on the northside), and before that The Human Race, which he purchased from Don Kardong, Bloomsday’s founding father.

As a niche retailer, Kinghorn certainly had business reasons to become a fixture in Spokane’s high school and college running scene, and to put himself into the orbit of Bloomsday and all the smaller races and clubs that surround Spokane’s renowned road race. But those business reasons, though important, at some point gave way to something deeper. Passion. Community. Inspiration. Relationships.

Spend some time with Kinghorn in his northside store near Whitworth University: he’ll tell old and new stories of the role of running in Spokane, of champions he and his team have outfitted, of dedicated coaches and runners who have brought distance running programs like North Central and Mead to national prominence, of the simplicity and complexity of running as a lifestyle and as a sport. He always comes back to his business’s mission: keeping every runner who comes through the doors in the proper shoe, helping them avoid injuries and stay on course. And he always comes back to the joy of being present with student athletes, in the store or at the race, helping them achieve success.

“Being around so many wonderful young people who work hard, put in the miles, perform at a high level... it’s kept me young,” Kinghorn says. Then he laughs. “Actually, I often say it made me old, taking grief from all these kids for so many years. But really, I’ve been so blessed. I’ve met some of the most amazing people through running. And to people who like to say how horrible today’s young people are, I want them to meet some of these runners.”

Kinghorn has never himself been a highly competitive runner — a big, tall, broad-shouldered guy, his athletic high point was as a fireballing college pitcher in the 1970s. But when injuries cut off his baseball playing days, he started a career in sporting goods, and he started running. And learning about running. And learning about the shoes that help runners achieve their goals.

The rest, as they say, has been showing up: to help make race day happen as a volunteer, to help athletes train for that big day, and even to give runners a job working in one of his stores.

Kevin Swaim, a teacher and cross country coach at Lewis & Clark High School, has known Kinghorn for years, having held previous coaching roles at Gonzaga University and Mead High School.

“He’s a business owner who is deeply invested in the running community,” Swaim says. “He asks about kids on my team by name, and he has hired dozens of local athletes to work in his stores. I’m convinced it’s not always because he needs the help... it’s just one more way to support the running community.”  

Whatever percentage it has made up of Kinghorn’s success, showing up has definitely played a role. He’s there. And he and his team of running experts are there for you,too: to look at your old shoes, help you choose a pair that will keep you on course, and cheer from the sidelines as you stride toward your next PR.