If this was the year you finished the St. Patrick's Day five-mile race, decided to go for a half-marathon and suddenly discovered that running in whatever was on sale at Marshall's wasn't very kind to the feet, it's time to check out a specialty shop. You don't have to travel far these days to find a runner's oasis. Most offer a selection of road-tested shoes, sold by people with an eye for overpronation. But there is one store where the owners do so much to support your new favorite sport, you'll feel guilty about buying those petro-chemical-based foot duds anywhere else. Opening a Big River Running store in south St. Louis this year (the original shop is on Manchester Road in west county), Ben Rosario and Matt Helbig created a home base for the local community. Monday-evening group runs depart from the little shop at Devonshire and Macklind avenues, and have attracted as many as 40 people. This past spring Big River was a major sponsor of the Festival of Miles, a fundraiser to benefit Saint Louis University runner Brigette Schutzman, who was badly hurt in a car accident on December 31, 2007. The event featured elite men trying to break the four-minute barrier on the outdoor track at Saint Louis University High. For those of you who are happy to hit the half-mile mark in four minutes, Big River inaugurated the Macklind Avenue Mile, a July 4 race on a sweet downhill course.
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