Don’t Walk. Run!
This is the latest in our profiles of fantastic independent businesses in Kirkcaldy’s town centre: Morton Running Company. Our Blog looks back at how recreational running has come on in leaps and bounds over the decades – and discovers just what makes Dave Morton tick …
Readers of a certain age may recall the running craze that hit the world way back when in 1974: Ray Stevens’ The streak? Before the ’70s, running was seen as something done by athletes – those training for a sport. The word ‘jogging’ was adopted by Kiwi athletics coach, Arthur Lydiard, in 1962. The successful New Zealand coach arranged for a group of former athletes and fitness enthusiasts to meet once a week – and they became the Auckland Joggers Club. A year later – after a visit to New Zealand – US coach and co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman, started a jogging club in Eugene, Oregon. In ’66 he published a book Jogging that caught the imagination of a generation. By the time Ray Stevens was singing about running with nothing but a smile, jogging was huge in the States.
Roll the clocks forward 30 years from Ray Stevens’ hit record – and another craze was about to gather speed. Zimbabwean Paul Sinton-Hewitt – who had grown up in South Africa – found himself unemployed and depressed whilst living in London. He gathered with a few folk – 13 to be precise – and started running … in a park. Fourteen years on, the parkrun phenomenon now sees around a quarter of a million runners and joggers of all abilities gather at 1,500 events across 20 different countries to enjoy exercise. One of those events is the regular Kirkcaldy parkrun.
Last year, Fife runner Dave Morton was back from a trip to California. Whilst there, he’d visited a running shop. “They had a completely different vibe” says Dave. It became an inspiration. A keen runner – it is a hobby that Dave loves – he started plans to open a store of his own. He explains: “We wanted to sell specialist running gear. We are fundamentally runners and have completed road and trail 10ks, half marathons, marathons and ultra-marathons.”
And so in April 2017, Morton Running Company opened to the public – selling running footwear, clothing, accessories and nutrition as well as providing information for customers keen to develop their running skills. Dave talks of ‘we’ as he employs one person: Rebecca Reader. Dave says: “Rebecca is my #2 and has faaar more sales experience than me!” He adds: “She is much cooler under pressure and is great with the customers, they really respond to her.”
But there’s one other person Dave highlights as being key in his company’s creation, launch and success. He explains: “The company would not be – or at least look – anything like it does with out the exceptional talents of a good ol’ school friend of mine – Stuart Gilbert. Stuart is a Graphic Designer by trade and works for a fancy outfit in Edinburgh but… because of our long-standing friendship he has been willing to lend a hand and basically be a Creative Director (as I like to call him) as almost a side hobby.” Dave adds: “I trust Stuart implicitly and he has enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy when it comes to design. This is kind of his baby too. I’ll repay him some day … somehow!”
But just as with running, Dave is quick to point out that life has its ups and downs. On a personal front, Dave says: “Like all of us, I’ve experienced a lot of what life has to offer. Although without a doubt difficult, this polarises what is important in life, to you … and allows you to target that which you love.” On a business front, he highlights the opening and running of his own store as his greatest achievement, adding: “Opening and running a retail store with absolutely no experience … I just kept ‘bashing on’ until somebody said stop, and nobody has yet!”
And why Kirkcaldy? Dave says: “The town does have a lot to offer. It’s one of the biggest towns in Fife and is easily accessible by road or rail. Because of it’s size it means that there are a lot of different retailers selling different stuff and consumers can spend more time in the town … perhaps over lunch or including an evening meal, for which there are numerous restaurants.” And he has a tip for anyone visiting for the first time: “Take a nice walk (or run!) around one of the parks – Beveridge or Ravenscraig. They can be quite rewarding, and it’s healthy too!”
It is great to hear from one of the town’s brilliant independent businesses. From the ’60s joggers – through the Park Run era – to a new generation of runners, Dave is at the forefront, inspiring folk to don a pair of shoes and to ‘get out there’. Whether you’re following in Dave’s footsteps with an eye on a marathon or just want to jog the Kirkcaldy Mile along the waterfront – the largest section of the 117 mile Fife’s Coast Path to run through a town – the Morton Running Company will help you with the first steps.
You’ll find Morton Running Company at 4 Whytehouse Avenue (KY1 1UW).
You can call them on 01592 329851 – and follow them on Facebook.
For more on the town’s Park Run – follow this link.
Thanks for reading!