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Up & Running, Horsham

Mike de Frateschi opened the shop in 2002 (©AAH/Toby Phillips)

Published on 1st September 2020


There has been a surge in recreational runners during lockdown, with people taking advantage of the natural beauty of the Sussex countryside. But the boom goes back further, with Horsham Joggers and the Parkrun attracting huge numbers even before the pandemic. 

Mike De Frateschi identified the growing trend early, establishing Up and Running in East Street back in 2002. Thanks to its remarkable customer service, the specialist shoe shop continues to prosper. Here, Mike describes his business journey in his own words…

Fresh Challenge

Up & Running was born out of my own personal passion, love and interest in running. Previously, I worked with a video production company, but when the work dried up, I found myself out of work in my late 40s with some stark choices to make. My wife and I had discussed the possibility of opening a running shop, so we took the chance in 2002. 

As a long-standing member of Horsham Joggers, we’d seen an increasing demand for a dedicated running shop. At the time, you had to travel to specialist shops in London for a gait analysis service. We wanted to offer customers with not only the best running shoes and apparel, but expert technical and scientific advice including free fitting and gait analysis.

30-Minute Service

Our ethos is to provide the best customer service. We typically spend 30 minutes with each customer, which is crucial to determining the correct shoes. As we’re trained in bio-mechanics and have backgrounds in running, we can talk through typical running injury issues, even referring on to medically trained professionals and training programmes where appropriate. We've also used many of the products ourselves and use that knowledge to advice customers. 

It you purchase the wrong pair of running shoes, you can cause yourself injury. So, we start with a gait analysis to understand your body mechanics and muscle movement, to identify the right type of shoe initially. We stock leading brands including Mizuno, Asics, Saucony, inov-8, Brooks and Hoka One One, and customers can try several to determine comfort aspects. We can then go on to the treadmill and monitoring as you’re running, to determine if the shoes are right.

Active Interest

People new to jogging or running will often go to a high street sports shop for their first pair of trainers. Eventually, they tend to come to us, as they realise quickly that such trainers are designed for casual wear and are not fully functional trainers for road running. The impact can be several times your own body weight, so you need to have the right shock absorbers on your feet if you enjoy running regularly. The difference pricewise can be significant, but there is good reason for that.

Visiting a specialist running shop for the first time used to be quite an intimidating experience, but we put everyone at ease and explain what we are aiming to achieve. This is much more than just a job for us. We take an active interest in our customers’ wellbeing and progress and take great satisfaction in seeing people start running for the first time.

Running Boom 

We have seen trends change significantly over the shop’s 18 years. Running has become increasingly popular, driven in part by the popularity of the likes of Parkrun. The Horsham Parkrun was originally set up by the Joggers, with about 100 people taking part. Now, there are five times that number. It’s a simple premise, but the beauty of it is that it brings the community together. You see very good club runners alongside recreational running, people jogging with dogs and even families. That's what is lovely about it. That community aspect of running wasn’t there before. 

We see more women taking up running now too. We see lots of mums whose children area bit older, finding themselves at a point in their lives when they want to do something to keep fit. They choose running as it’s sociable, relatively inexpensive and helps with both mental and physical wellbeing. When we first opened, most of our customers were male club runners, but that has significantly changed. It is now about 50-50 in terms of men and women and we have seen some new customers who have taken up running, possibly for the first time, during lockdown.

Local Trails 

Trail running is particularly popular as we have beautiful countryside on our doorstep, which is easily accessible and free to use. You need the right shoes as road running trainers are of little use along the Downs Link or through fields in the depths of winter. We sell spiked track shoes too, and there’s a level of interest from juniors at Horsham Blue Star Harriers, at least so long as the athletics track remains. We continue to offer junior shoes and regularly see family groups. 

The internet is becoming more challenging, as people are going there to purchase everything. But running shoes are something you need to try on and test, which you can’t do online. We go through the processes necessary to make sure someone leaves with the right shoes and that does lead to a degree of loyalty. We are proud to say that many customers have remained loyal to us, with some having come here since the first day we opened. 
The shop has recently been refurbished, due to a leak coming from an adjacent property during lockdown. Fortunately, I was popping in every few days and discovered it before it caused more severe damage. But it required a refit, so it feels like a new shop. 

Exploring on Foot 

One day, I’ll think about retirement, but I'm happy for now. I still run, occasionally with Horsham Joggers or other groups but often on my own, as I enjoy the solitude. I've always enjoyed running and the shop is an extension of that. 

There's such a wonderful network of places you can get enjoy locally and I love exploring the paths and trails in this area. Every time you go outside, there’s a new challenge and that’s what’s so satisfying about it.

Up and Running, 20 Queen Street, Horsham, RH13 5AFTel: (01403) 268688