It’s not every day you get fitted for new shoes by a former Olympian, three-time Commonwealth Games runner and top-5-ever Canadian marathoner. But if you time it right, and you stop in at the Forerunners on 4th Avenue in Vancouver, you just might.
Owner and co-founder with his wife Karen, Peter Butler has channeled the hard work and determination he put into numerous Canadian championships directly into his business, the first specialty run shop to open on the West Coast. After graduating from the University of Calgary, he began work in accounting for a large gas company where quickly, the sport that had been his life for so long began tugging at him.
“It was something that got planted into my brain,” Peter remembers. “And suddenly, it’s just, let’s do this, you know?”
Within a year he and Karen had moved to Vancouver to open Forerunners. “Running at a high level,” Peter says, “you get to know a lot of people in the industry, from sponsorship and that sort of thing, and a few of them were encouraging me to start a store. They thought I’d do well.”
Thirty-two years on, he’s more than proven them right. He credits much of his success to the community they’ve built through Forerunners’ running clinics – the very first of their kind in Canada. More than just group runs, the clinics have always been an instructional series of workouts designed to help runners meet their goals.
Peter explains the 1-2-3 philosophy that has created such a loyal following. “First thing you want to do is get them to the start line. Second, you want to get them to the finish line. Third, you want to get them to improve along the way. It’s always been the basics of our running program and we’ve always emphasized this.”
Forever the distance runner – he still runs 4 to 5 days a week – he sees success in business not so far removed from the track. “Successful people are determined people,” he says. “Just as a distance runner usually has a longer road to success, patience is key; not getting ahead of yourself and having a long-term plan.”