Most would say Grand Forks is a hockey town, all-year round. So running hasn’t traditionally been a popular sport.
“Running in Grand Forks isn’t a huge sport anyway, it’s a hockey town. So you were lucky if your parents came out and watched you race for cross country,” said avid runner Richard Dafoe.
Dafoe owns See Dick Run, a running store at 3750 32nd Ave. S., and has built a culture around running in a place that snows more months than it doesn’t.
The Central High School graduate studied to be a teacher at University of Iowa with his now-wife, Becky, a nurse. The couple returned to Grand Forks and he taught for a few years. While doing this, he was coaching track and cross country and also helping organize the Wild Hog Marathon. Dafoe then got a promotional sales job. But it wasn’t his passion.
“Everything I was doing revolved around running except for my day job. It was kind of in the way,” Dafoe said.
See Dick Run opened in November 2015.
“I love it. I never dread waking up in the morning to go to work,” Dafoe, 37, said.
And while many larger retailers are struggling, See Dick Run seems to be staying afloat because of the one-on-one attention Dafoe and his team give customers.
“It’s a very special person who can work here because people come in and they expect to talk to somebody who is an expert in running and shoes, injuries or diet. And it’s not just runners that come in,” Dafoe said.
Dafoe runs the store with two other employees.
Adam Rodahl, who Dafoe calls his “right hand man,” said he first met Dafoe in 2013 through the Wild Hog Marathon.
“I had been asking around at the Wild Hog for ways to help out and volunteer. And he had mentioned he was opening a running shop,” Rodahl said. “I was employed by Choice Fitness at the time and I left my job. It was a calculated risk, for sure, but I never really doubted that that was what I was supposed to do.”
He gets various products from an old track teammate, who now works for Grand Forks-based Probitas Promotions, and his seventh-grade cross country coach, who owns a printing business.
“It’s fun to be able to work with them on some of that stuff,” Dafoe said.
‘Steeped in running’
Dafoe has six children, ages 14 to 3.
“My kids are getting to the age where they’re helping with stuff, this is becoming a little bit more of a family business,” Dafoe said. “My parents owned the Christian Bookshelf in Grand Cities Mall. And I remember they’d send out catalogs at Christmas time, and the whole family would help label. I’d love for this to be that, too. It would be fun to do it as a family.”
Dafoe said he has never pressured his children to run.
“I hope that it grows to be a big part of their lives. It’d be hard to imagine that it doesn’t because they’ve grown up steeped in running,” Dafoe said.
While he hopes his children become runners, he said his wife has never gotten into the sport.
“Becky ran cross country in high school so that she could come to the meets and watch me run,” Dafoe said. “She had pretty bad exercise-induced asthma in high school, so she was just miserable but she wanted to be there. It was pretty cute.”
Dafoe stepped back from organizing the Wild Hog Marathon, but tries to help with that race and others in the area.
“Any running event in the area we try to be a part of, whether its giving gift cards for winners or help timing the event,” Dafoe said. “I also provide volunteers. I tell my cross country and track kids to go help.”
Dafoe and See Dick Run helped with the Run for Your Buns, benefiting colon cancer prevention, and organized the See Dick Run Mile Extravaganza, formerly known as the Elite Mile. Dafoe said he organizes a few different mile events a year. Rodahl said the event has grown every year.
“There’s something to be said of the growing culture of running in Grand Forks,” Rodahl said. “I think with an established base, too, like a shop, that really helps people to find people that care about running.”
Running events in the region
Anytime Fitness in East Grand Forks will be offering a free outdoor workout from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. on July 1, meeting at the downtown Grand Forks gazebo and Greenway Trail area
The Hatton 5k and Fun Run at 6 p.m. will be on July 3. You can register online at https://www.raceentry.com/hatton-5k/race-information.
The YMCA will host its Firecracker 10K Run and 5K Run/Walk on July 4 at 8 a.m. Registration is available online and at the YMCA
The Heart and Sole 5k Walk/Run Little Park in Park River will be on July 6 at 9 a.m. You can enter at: www.raceentry.com/first-care-health-centers-heart-and-sole-5k/race-information
The YMCA will offer yoga on the Greenway on Saturday July 6 at 10 a.m., meeting at the Greenway entry behind the Toasted Frog
HudSun will offer an outdoor yoga event on July 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. Register via Facebook or at: https://forms.gle/gTsxzMZmHXjoQoeL9
The Second Annual Rally for Recovery will start at the Greenway, 3104 Chestnut St., on July 18 at 6 p.m. Dafoe and See Dick Run will sponsor the Run Langdon 5k, 10k and Kids Run on July 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Dakota Spirit Area, 1801 11th Ave.
The Running for Rescues 5K starts at 10 a.m. at Lincoln Drive Park Shelter #2 on August 17. Proceeds go to Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue. Register online at http://getmeregistered.com/RunningforRescues5K. Jog Your Memory Alzheimer’s 5k is also on August 17 in East Grand Forks at 9 a.m.