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The Great African Shoe Delivery

Posted on Monday, July 17, 2017 by Wendi Morin

As many people know, I went to Ethiopia in May for two amazing weeks. There were four of us, and we hauled 12 huge hockey-sized duffle bags full of the shoes you donated to Gear West, t-shirts, medical supplies, and pens. We were in some of the poorest parts of Ethiopia, with our main focus being Wekin. They were just crazy about the shoes, many of the people have been without shoes most of their lives and are trekking long miles barefoot over rocky ground just to get to water.
Wekin only has a couple of wells that were built over the last few years through donors. Before then, children were dying from drinking water from the ground. They walk miles with yellow 5-gallon cartons on their backs that are recycled oil containers that they fill with water from the wells and carry back home. Latrines are new to them; I don’t think I’ll ever take a toilet for granted again. Only recently have they been getting small enclosures like port-a-potties with holes in the ground to go to the bathroom in. The mud huts made of manure and mud that they live in are slowly being upgraded to stick huts that sort of look like bird cages with air and light coming in between the sticks. And even though these people have very little, if you visit them, they want to give you everything they have.
Traveling to a place like Wekin, Ethiopia changes you. People have asked me how the trip was and it’s hard to say great when you see people have so little. It was life changing is my answer. The shoes you donated will be passed down from generation to generation within a single family until there’s nothing left of them. The shoes will be more holes than fabric before they retire them and the soles will be flat and warn through. There were still shoes being worn that were brought a few years ago, but instead of the oldest child wearing them, the youngest child is wearing them. They thank you. And the four of us who went to Ethiopia to give them the shoes thank you for letting us see the smiles on their faces when they received them. And Gear West thanks you for being our loyal customers, buying shoes from us, and giving your used shoes to those in need. Thank You!

12 Tips for Crushing Your Birkie Trail Run

Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 by Jan Guenther
Caught your attention? Ok, for some maybe it's not about “crushing” it. Let's try “Tips for Finishing Your Birkie Trail Run in Fine Form!" To me, the definition of crushing means winning an age group, winning overall, or creating a personal best. BUT, finishing with a smile, without leg cramps or bloody knees, and doing as well or better than you expected is my definition of ##...


Posted on Monday, June 26, 2017 by Michael Stearns


Gear West Alpine has been on snow for most of June! Dana Henry, Gear West’s Alpine Service Manager, just returned from Mammoth Mountain, CA where he spent several weeks with Fischer USA and worked alongside Minnesota’s Team Gilboa.  For Fischer, Dana managed the Test Center coordinating ski testing between the attending teams, coaches and athletes and keeping the ski fleet in exceptional condition - waxed and tuned-for the ski ra...

Why I Love Roller Skiing

Posted on Monday, June 5, 2017 by Speedy


Specificity – Roller skiing is the closest exercise to snow skiing that there is. If you want to improve your skiing, doing at least some roller skiing must be included in your summer and fall training. I have heard that many coaches believe that an intermediate skier can get a whole season of improvement in a summer of roller skiing.

Low impact – Roller skiing is a very low impact activity. An athlete is able to log large amounts of time training w...

8 Things people don't tell you when you start Nordic Skiing

Posted on Monday, June 5, 2017 by Corey Towle
As the resident newbie to Nordic skiing here at Gear West (I learned to ski in the winter of 2013) I was tasked with coming up with 8 things people don’t tell you when you start nordic skiing.
#1 There is a difference between Classic and Skate. If you are surprised that people could be that dense, you’ve been skiing for too long. All non-skiers know about us is that we attached long pieces of wood to our feet...
#2 Sk...

Tips for Stand Up Paddle Boards

Posted on Monday, May 29, 2017 by Dana Henry

Tips for Stand Up Paddle Board

SUPing offers a fun and relaxing activity that anyone can do. It is also one of the best workouts out there. Simply standing on a board will activate core muscles, combining balance, strength and endurance.

Standing on the Board

It’s important to stay low to learn the balance of a board.  Start on your knees and work your way higher as you get comfortable.  When you stand, keep your feet pa...

Weekend Trail Running Getaway

Posted on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Kari Gibbons


One of the things I love about Minnesota summers is the weekend getaway, or as some people call them: runcations.  I love getting my miles in on the local trails but when the weekend hits it’s time to explore new territory!  Car camping is easiest for a last minute getaway, but backpacking is always a favorite of mine.  Heading up to the north shore is a popular destination and I’ve definitely spent many a night tucked un...

Jan Talks Motivation

Posted on Thursday, May 11, 2017 by Jan Guenther
Jan Guenther's thoughts on
KEEPING MOTIVATED & FIT FOR NEXT YEARS BIRKIE from the perspective of a 50-something woman athlete with tender knees.
What to do? How do I train for next year’s skiing when most of THIS PAST winter did not happen?
And of course, I add to my mish-mash of thoughts concerning every emotion that surrounds training, “Why even bother trying to improve skill or fitness leve...

Checklist for the Birkie

Posted on Friday, February 17, 2017 by Ari Mahonen
With the American Birkie and Kortie just a few days away, it’s time to think all those little things that add up to having the best possible event. 
  • Write name & phone number on your skis & poles. Possibility putting some Washi tape on the base of the pole handle to stop any confusion during the chaos of the start and finish areas.   
  • Upgrade your poles. The Birkie is a...

Gear West Ski and Run Podcast

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by Tony Mommsen

Gear West Ski and Run Podcast

See all episodes here.


Episode #6

State Meet & Mora Vasaloppet Recap

Tune in for Maple & Speedy as they get comfortable and talk about the track season, Nike's recent two hour marathon attempt, snowmaking at Orono High School, and the recent Loppet Foundation fundraiser. While Lolo Jones didn't manage to make it out to GW for the podcast, Tony brought d...

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Wisdom, Value, Selection. These three ideals are the core of Gear West. We bring you the best products for your sport, style, and skill at the best prices and back them with unparalleled knowledge and support.

North America's largest cross country ski retailer and one of Minnesota's premier independent specialty sports stores, Gear West provides top level gear for nordic, running, alpine, soccer, lacrosse, and boardsports athletes across the midwest and the United States. We provide equipment for athletes of every level, from first-timers and newcomers to professionals and Olympians.

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