Along the walls of Marx Running and Fitness at 118 Merrimack St., in Lowell, one can see old photos and newspapers clippings of owner Mark Coddaire alongside fellow runners and friends.Older fellas and youngsters Coddaire has trained, and run with, over the years line the top half of both walls.
Coddaire has been running around his hometown of Chelmsford, Acton and the Greater Lowell Community for a while — since 1984, to be exact. He has previously volunteered for the Greater Lowell Road Runners, a public group out of Dracut with more than 1,000 runners.
Now, he’s committed to making your running experience better and healthier.
Tucked in the back corner of Marx Running and Fitness is a mobile data-analysis machine that utilizes Contemplate Software to analyze one’s running technique and determine the best shoe for you.
Anyone can just walk in, run on a treadmill and potentially walk out with a shoe that works best for him or her, Coddaire said.
“We want to help those far beyond the running community,” said Coddaire, who opened the store originally in 2003 before moving to Acton in 2006 and then coming back to Lowell.
Coddaire wants his store to provide consumers a variety of shoes as well as training and health tips.
“We’re not very typical of a shoe store,” Coddaire added.
The best shoe, Coddaire says, is the store’s 361 Sensation 2 — an older product that is slowly being taken off retail shelves. He said he has an abundance to sell and they’ll be available to the Lowell community when his store reopens its doors Oct. 1. He also sells the 361 Nemesis, a store exclusive that is a secondary type of the Sensation 2.
“I like to compete,” said Coddaire, who still has his store on Great Road in Acton. “I also like the health and the fitness that comes with running.”
The European shoe that only his store sells, 361 Sensation 2, is a “perfect shoe” that can absorb the harsh impact your feet take when running while also helping your running form, Coddaire said.
Coddaire said it offers a perfect mix of support and cushioning that no other shoe offers. It also personally helped Coddaire after he sustained a back injury in January 2017 and began running 50 miles a week just three months later, the company said.
“Mark has taken great lengths to keep a little-known, but well-loved, shoe model with a cult following on his shelves,” the single-store company wrote in a press release.
The Nemesis — which has the exact same mid-sole of the Sensation 2 with a slightly wider, upper portion for runners’ toes — is also sold, as Coddaire and his retail store of five employees can meet consumers at any gym in the greater Lowell region.
“We’re really trying to bridge the medical and running community,” said Jill DeCoste, who does communication and marketing for Coddaire’s company.
One recent day, DeCoste displayed what most consumers would do in Coddaire’s store: Walk in with a pair of running shoes and run on a treadmill. The treadmill has a camera behind it that shows runner’s ankles and calves as they sprint at different speeds.
Previously, Coddaire worked with a doctorate physical-therapy student from UMass Lowell to assist him with analysis and shoe evaluation. Together, they developed an evaluation system in which they can categorize the exact differences, and the level of injury prevention, that the Sensation 2 provides customers. After presenting his data and findings to numerous physical-therapy offices, 361 decided to partner with Coddaire.
“We are not following the traditional shoe-store model,” said Coddaire, who will help sponsor the Middlemiss Big Heart 5K later this month.
Luke O’Roark on Twitter: @LukeORoark.