There are a lot of great people who can be found at Extra Mile Fitness of Valparaiso. I was able to catch up with Ali Brown, Extra Mile’s store manager, for an informative chat.
Ali has been with Extra Mile for three years, but she has known Todd and Heater Henderlong, owners of the business, for much longer. She used to be the race director for Runnin’ with the Irish 5k out of Chesterton and knew the Henderlongs from their other business, T&H Timing.
“After my time as the race director concluded I asked Heather if they needed any help at Extra Mile and she said yes,” Ali said. “I have retail experience and they were looking for someone with that type of background. And working for Todd and Heather is great. They are fair and fun, and very dedicated to the running community.”
On a daily basis Ali does a lot of behind the scenes work like ordering and receiving merchandise, taking care of returns, and planning for the coming season’s fashions. She and the rest of the staff also deal with the customers who stream in. That is their first priority.
“We’re actually in the planning stages for running apparel for 2016,” Ali said. “I’ve been sitting at my computer picking out things that I think people will want to wear while running next year. But the customers all come first… Any given day we can be wearing many different hats here… We’re comrades in arms. You definitely form a bond with people here.”
Shooting to the past, Ali became interested in running and fitness when she was in high school. She and a friend decided that it would be fun to try running as freshmen.
“We tried out for the cross country team and I have some of the best memories of high school from when I was in cross country,” Ali said. “I have great memories and great friendships and that girl I joined with is still one of my best friends. I hope that my daughters get to experience the same things.”
Ali is the proud mom of two girls. One is a soccer player at Chesterton and the other is still choosing her sporting niche.
“I’m still trying to lovingly push my youngest in the direction of running,” Ali said with a laugh. “As a busy mom, running is the one thing I do for myself, by myself, and I think that sets a good example for the girls.”
And there really is no better place to teach the love of running than in Northwest Indiana.
“We really have a special running community,” Ali said. “It is full of the most welcoming and enthusiastic people, no one is left out. All paces and levels are welcome. At the weekly fun runs that we have here at Extra Mile have people come out from all over the community.”
Next time you head into Extra Mile, be sure to say hello to Ali!