Four years ago, Brian Connelly, 45, then a commodities trader, began running with a well-known trainer in Chicago.  Through running with his coach, he not only improved his time, but found himself getting more and more addicted to the sport and loving every minute of it.

He also began forming a friendship that would someday transform itself into a business partnership, a dramatic career change and a new business opening its doors on April 8 at 7239 W. Madison St., at the new Focus Development Project.

The business is Run Chicago, specializing in turning people into the best runners they can possibly become while selling the state of the art equipment these runners need.  The partner is Greg Domantay, 44, who brings more than 18 years of experience in training runners to the table.

Two men apart
“We are trying to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the running stores,” Connelly said, pointing to their high-end apparel, casual clothes and Domantay’s expertise in coaching. 

This experience, in particular, is what Connelly sees as setting this store apart from the rest of the pack.

“I started running 25 years ago, but running with Greg for the last four years has made me twice the runner I was,” Connelly said.  “His groups are fun, challenging and make you work.”

For Domantay, however, what sets them apart is the unique combination they have in their shop.

“Brian and I saw a need for a better store that provided everything,” Domantay said. “We not only have the highest quality shoes and apparel but we are also a training

In fact, the men said, the vision for Run Chicago the store began when more and more of Domantay’s clients?”who run under the name Run Chicago?”began to ask him for advice about what shoes and clothes to buy.

As more people came forward asking for advice, the men began to ask ‘why not eliminate the middle man and provide the equipment ourselves.’

“One of the beautiful things about our relationship is we have all these programs together,” Domantay said. “We can deliver; we are your personal shopper: we know [what you need] because we see you on a regular basis.  It will be easy for us to recommend [equipment] because I see a runner and I know what type of shoe they
need based on how you move when you
get tired.”

The partnership
For Connelly and Domantay, the transition from running partners, to friends, to business partners has been an easy one.

“I think in any partnership you find the person who can do things you can’t do very well,” Domantay said. “We seem to have the ability to know how to handle the thing the other person can’t do very well or quickly.  [Connelly] will learn more from me about the running because, even though he is a seasoned runner, I know more about the product.” 

The program

“The program that I have been doing for the last 18 years is the top program around for anyone aspiring to be a better athlete,” Domantay said. “It is a launching pad for anyone aspiring to reach above their potential.”

The program, which will be featured at Run Chicago, is a combination of track training and interval training. 

Domantay said the key to the program is discipline and having an experienced coach.

“It doesn’t matter if you have never run,” he said. “A good coach will get you to a much better level and much safer than you have before.”

The essence of all sports

For both men the driving force behind their new store is their love of running, which Domantay calls the essence of all sports.

“In tennis you have to run, in soccer you have to run,” Domantay said. “It is the beginning for any other sporting activity.  The simplicity and the purity of it is what I get out of it.  It is one of those things that you can really put in the effort and get a lot out of it.”

Connelly agreed, adding that he chose running after years of swimming.

“I got tired of seeing the bottom of the pool,” he said.  “Now, I always run outside.  I run in all kinds of weather.  I just find it is so enjoyable and you get a runner’s high?”it is a great feeling.”

Domantay runs on a regular basis with his running teams and Connelly runs six to seven days a week.  Connelly said that on good weeks, he can put in over 50 miles of running.

Run Chicago is one of the key sponsors for the upcoming November 6 Golden Apple Fundraiser Run/Walk, the first of its kind in Forest Park.