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A Store for Serious Athletes

Swim Bike Run opened its doors this summer in Town and Country, making it the first shop to specialize in triathlon gear in the St. Louis-metro area.

Swim Bike Run, the first store in the St. Louis area to cater to triathletes, opened its doors this summer in Town and County. It caters to triathletes.

The Ironman is the best known triathlon, a grueling race that involves a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike race and capped off with a full marathon—without a break. Athletes in St. Louis can compete in shorter local races, such as the Tour de Kirkwood on July 24. The Kirkwood race is a sprint triathlon, with a 400-yard swim, 12-mile bike race and a 3-mile run.

Swim Bike Run owner Sally Drake knows all about triathlons. She has competed in 13 Ironman races and is training for her 14th. But you don’t have to be an Ironman to appreciate her store. She carries swim gear for those who take their swimming seriously, lightweight road bikes, running shoes and clothes. The shop offers bike repair, yoga classes and nutritional consulting. It even subleases office space to a chiropractor.

“We cater to road cyclists and active people in general,” Drake said.

Swim Bike Run also hosts casual group runs and bike rides in an effort to be a community hub for athletes. She said that part of the reason she opened her shop on Clayton Road is because it’s part of a popular route for road cyclists who pedal Clayton Road to Babler State Park and back.

Drake said she wanted to open Swim Bike Run as a way to combine her work life and athletic pursuits. Before opening the shop, she was a senior financial analyst at Cooper Bussmann and coached triathletes on the side. She’s an elite triathlon coach and a regional manager for TrainingBible Coaching, a service for serious endurance athletes set up by author Joe Friel, who writes training books.

Throughout the last year, Drake has juggled working, planning, coaching and training. She kept her day job while working on the shop’s business plan. All the while, she continued to teach 6 a.m. swim classes, coach fellow athletes and keep up her own fitness conditioning.

She said another reason for selecting the Town and Country location was the large, west-facing windows that she fell in love with. The shop’s running clothes are hung on small racks with wheels, making it a simple task to clear the main floor for a sunset yoga class. Drake said that she took time to find just the right retail space, since she planned on spending a lot of time there.

“The other place I looked at was more of a cave,” she said. “This has enough space for all I want to do.”

In the back of Swim Bike Run is a training room set aside for St. Louis’ only CompuTrainer, a technological gizmo for indoor bike training. She will soon offer classes at $20 a session on the unique simulator. Like some spinning classes, the CompuTrainer has a video projector that displays recorded scenery from a real road race. Unlike spinning classes, clients bring in their own road bikes and fit them into a docking device that provides resistance, simulates hills and measures the rider’s efforts. Drake’s CompuTrainer is currently set up for eight bikes, but she can expand it to 15.

On the Horizon:

  • The Town and Country-Frontenac Chamber of Commerce will have Bob Boles of SCORE (service corps of retired executives) as a guest speaker at its member luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 10.

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