What began as a simple sketch of a logo on an airplane napkin ten years ago has now evolved into a global trademark all because two people shared a passion to dream big by starting something new and fun on an island community.
On Monday, Sept. 9, Jason and Melissa Braswell, co-owners of Big Island Running Company, will commemorate the running store’s exact 10-year anniversary with a grand re-opening of their shop located at Coconut Grove Marketplace.
“Overall it’s been a lot of fun,” Melissa Braswell said. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes over the last ten years. We started off taking over the Alii Drive store, then added a couple more stores (Kaloko and Hilo), and then we went back to just having the Alii Drive store. We’ve done a lot of things different. But one thing that we hadn’t quite done was do any renovations on the Alii Drive store so that’s where we are now and we are really excited about that.”
Braswell said that Sept 9, 2009 was the day her husband, Jason, opened the doors of the Alii Drive running store to the Big Island community. Both started out as lawyers for six years at big firms in Chicago and had been looking for something more entrepreneurial to do. Little did they know, the two words Jason sketched on a napkin while on a return trip to Chicago from Kona would forever change the lives of many.
Maybe it was the simplicity of the words, “RUN BIG,” complete with a hand shaka and the island of Hawaii, that had inspired such a profound and wholehearted meaning – often igniting new passions or reviving old flames for the sport.
Or maybe, having the logo printed onto a brightly colored run singlet, dry-fit t-shirt, hat or visor – RUN BIG could be seen almost everywhere, like a tidal wave sweeping the community into a new frenzy while enticing so many more to become part of the RUN BIG fan club.
For many reasons, the popular logoed apparel quickly became a “must have” on everyone’s wish list, literally transforming and uplifting Big Island’s running scene and it didn’t take long before it went global.
Each year hundreds of RUN BIG followers take to social media for the Big Island Running Company’s photo contest – submitting random pictures while proudly wearing RUN BIG shirts in some of the most picturesque destinations in the world.
Yet what the Braswells have created has been much more than just a catchy phrase. They, along with their quaint running store and 4-year-old daughter, Emily, have truly become more like an extended ohana – a social network of friends and a community of like-minded individuals who connect well beyond any finish line.
“I think it’s all the people that we’ve gotten to know in the community,” said Braswell when asked about her fondest memory over the last decade. “It’s the people who come to our run groups, the races, those that come and shop and support us, it’s getting to see runners develop and even the kids – those that began as 3-year old and now they are almost in high school. It’s just crazy.”
Braswell said people would be in for a surprise when seeing the store’s new “face lift” come next Monday.
“The two big things are paint and changing the floor,” she said. “We had carpet in here that I think has been in here for at least 20-years which has definitely seen its better days. So we will have a much sleeker look, a new floor, new paint, some new fixtures, displays and hangings, as we are hoping for an open, spacious new feel.”
And along with a new reception desk and register, John Ferdico, a renown artist, local runner, photographer, and art lecturer at Hawaii Community College Palamanui who also won the Hawaii Volcano National Park and The National Parks Arts Foundation Artist in Residence last July, has also put his artistic talents to use on the store’s new flooring.
“The coolest thing is John Ferdico did some floor logo-ing for us so that will be nice,” Braswell said. “So we have a lot of talented people in the community who run with us and helped out. We had Glenn and Acela Parsons who did the actual remodel but our staff really did a lot of work as well.”
Aside from the store’s new changes, Braswell said everything else would remain the same.
Like the their support to all local running and triathlon events, Peamans and Team Mango Races; contributing their time as run directors for the Ironman World Championships and Ironman 70.3 Hawaii; organizing their weekly running groups held every Tues-Thurs-Sat as well as the Jingle Bell Beach Run Couch-To-5K training program; and putting on their beloved Thanksgiving Wobble Gobble Runs.
In addition, the Braswells continue to support the 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon, a race they began in 2015 before passing it on to a new race director, Keely McGhee, in 2017. This year the event will also feature a Marathon distance and slated for November 9th.
“We love supporting a lot of local racing,” Braswell said. “I think it’s watching the running community develop and change. Seeing some of our Couch-to-5Kers go on to do a half marathon or marathon. We began this adventure 10-years ago and didn’t know what to expect. It makes us feel we’ve done a good job and that we are part of this community.”
So come on by and help Big Island Running Company celebrate their 10th anniversary while enjoying the store’s newly remodeled look on Monday, September 9th from 5-7 p.m. located at Coconut Grove Marketplace.
“It will be just a chance to hang out,” Braswell said. “It will be a time to get together in an informal way as we will have some refreshments, some giveaways, and some special recognitions. It will be just a time to celebrate with the community.”
Friday: Waimea Middle School’s 7th Annual Fun Run/Walk and Silent Auction will be held at Waimea Middle School. Start time is 5 p.m. for the 1.5-mile or 3-mile run/walk with onsite registration, silent auction and bingo beginning at 4 p.m. For more information contact Patty Cook at 937-2833.
Sunday: Frozen Pea Productions presents Peaman International Biathlon at Kaiakeakua Beach. Start time for the free event is 8:08 a.m., and features a ¾-mile swim and 3.9-mile run. A shorter LavaKids Pea Wee course of a 200-yard swim and 1-mile run is always available for everyone. For more information contact Peaman at 938-2296.
Sunday: Four Season’s Resort Hualalai presents the 23rd Anniversary Run For Hope 10K &5K Run. Start time for the event that benefits cancer research is 7 a.m. with an Awards ceremony to follow for a fun event for the whole family. For more information on registration and entry fees call 325-8052.