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Finding the right footwear at Fallen Arch

May 14, 2015 - Andy Flynn
This week: 400 lbs.

Last week: 404 lbs.

Start (12/17/13): 470 lbs.

Total lost: 70 lbs.

In Lake Placid, we’re blessed with having businesses that cater to athletes of all sizes and abilities, from the average Joe like me to world-class athletes. That goes for all sports, especially one as important to the Olympic Region as running.

When it comes to footwear for walking the Lake Placid Half-Marathon and other races in 2015, I’m sticking with the Fallen Arch at 2523 Main St. Owner Gail Joseph and manager Bob Tysen — the couple that operates the store — use decades of running experience to help their customers, and I’ve found them invaluable for training and racing advice and for helping me find the right sneakers.

“We run, and we’ve been running for years,” Bob said. “I’ve been racing since I was in sixth grade, and I’m almost 60 years old. So there’s a lot of experience, and we try a lot of shoes. We’re always bugging the reps. ‘Give us shoes.’ She gets mad at me, but you get to know shoes.”

Bob is one of those ultrarunners and all-around athletes. Prior to moving to Lake Placid, he worked as a physical trainer in Kingston, Ontario, and he is a member of the Kingston Sports Hall of Fame for the sports of cycling and skating.

“Bob has 16 years as a personal trainer behind him,” Gail said.

“I’ve worked with a lot of professional athletes,” Bob said. “I’ve worked with Olympians. I’ve worked with a ton of NHL hockey players. All different kinds of sports.”

Bob is a former pro mountain biker, semi-pro hockey player, pro marathon speed skater and holds numerous long-distance running and cycling records in North America. He continues to compete, having run nine ultrarunning races in 2014 alone. You’ll see him around town training in all kinds of weather. At this point in his life, however, he runs for the fun of it, not the glory.

“We’re passionate about what we do,” Bob said about the Fallen Arch. “Racing doesn’t excite me anymore. Making someone like you happy and seeing you cross the finish line because we helped you out, that makes me happy. That makes me excited.”

In the past, I’ve purchased footwear elsewhere because I thought a Lake Placid store would be too pricey. I’d buy New Balance sneakers online because they make extra-wide models (size 12, 6E), and I’d buy hiking boots at IBC in Malone because they carry a variety of wide boots. So when I walked into the Fallen Arch last summer to buy hiking boots — because I wanted to support a Lake Placid business — I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

The footwear is reasonably priced, and the one-on-one attention I get from Bob and Gail is an added bonus. Actually, getting the right footwear for my training and races is essential, not just a perk. Gail found the right pair of boots for my hiking season in 2014.

When runners and triathletes are in Lake Placid for their races — Lake Placid Marathon and Half, Ironman Lake Placid triathlon, Lake Placid Classic Half-Marathon and 10k, etc. — you’ll see them make a bee line to the Fallen Arch for their footwear and Bob and Gail’s advice.

“The winner of Ironman last year crossed the finish line in a shoe we sold him,” Gail said.

“He bought it that week,” Bob added.

When I crossed the finish line of the Lake Placid Classic 10k in September 2014, I saw Gail in the Fallen Arch tent. They are one of the race’s sponsors. I was wearing the same model of New Balance sneakers I’d worn for years, white and blue 624 cross-trainers. I bought them for only one reason: they fit. I didn’t think the Fallen Arch would have an extra-wide size of those fancy running sneakers, and I didn’t think I needed running sneakers anyway. After all, I was walking, not running.

“A running shoe is the most cushioned shoe on the market,” Gail said. “That’s why we put a lot of walkers in running shoes.”

This year, I walked into the Fallen Arch and asked Bob and Gail for their advice on my footwear. Was I wearing the right sneakers for my races?

“I’m not going to say it’s the wrong shoe, because everybody is different,” Gail said about the cross-trainers. “But was it the most comfortable shoe I would of thought for you? No. I would have chosen something else for you.”

And she did. Gail picked the New Balance 1540 V2 running sneaker, and so far I’ve found them comfortable on my training walks. She even chose a pair of running socks for me, ones that are not made of cotton.

“We don’t look to make a one-time shoe sale,” Gail said. “We look to have you as our customer forever, so we take the time to look at you. Like with you, I called my rep, and I said, ‘What do you think about this shoe for him?’ And he said, ‘I think that’s the shoe. I think you made a good choice.’ So we look to give our customer that kind of service so they come back again and again. And that’s the way we stand up with the big guys. We’re more in tune with our customer because we’re one-on-one.”

There’s a sense of freedom in this small-town shoe store, for the customers and for Bob and Gail. They’re not limited by what big buyers buy.

“We can get specific things, and Gail’s fantastic at buying things,” Bob said.

For my hiking boots and running sneakers, Gail did her research. She didn’t have what I needed in the store, so she combed through her catalogs and found the right footwear for me, ordered them and best of all, they fit. My wife was a happy customer last year when she walked in the Fallen Arch for a pair of sneakers. Bob spent about 10 minutes with her, found the right sneakers, and she has raved about them ever since. You won’t miss them; they’re hot pink.

As for others who have a desire to start walking or running for fun, exercise or competition, Bob has some advice.

“Start walking first,” he said. “The biggest thing, I think, is time on your feet. From walking, you can start interval training, walking a set amount of time and running a set amount of time. ... At some point, some people are probably going to have to use that formula to be able to do their first 5k or 10k. Ultimately, later in life as you get older and things start falling apart, you’re going to be on that program anyway.”

Gail’s advice focuses on the gear.

“I think the most important thing is the right shoe,” Gail said. “If you’re not in the right shoes, and you’re in agony the whole time, it’s something you’re not going to want to do. So if you’re in the right footwear, you’re more comfortable and you’re more apt to go out and do it.”

As I train for my races this year — the Lake Placid Half-Marathon in June, Lake Placid Classic Half-Marathon in September and Empire State Half-Marathon in October — I keep thinking about Bob and Gail, and my goal is to put smiles on their faces and make them proud by crossing those finish lines.

For more information about the Fallen Arch, call 518-523-5310 or visit online at


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Blog Photos

Bob Tysen and Gail Joseph at the Fallen Arch shoe store on Main Street, Lake Placid (New photos — Andy Flynn)