A phone, an iPod, keys, money, identification, energy gels. This is the list of essentials runners carry with them when they run — give or take an item or two. Even if they leave one or two things behind, carrying the rest can be awkward and uncomfortable. After decades of long-distance recreational running and 12 marathons, Lakewood resident Julie Bradfield had enough of holding bulky items in her hand or strapping them around her waist. “I tried everything on the market. It just wasn’t comfortable,” she explains. It was time to get creative. Using materials she had around the house — a running shirt, an old computer bag — she made a lightweight, waterproof pouch that could fit her necessities. “The pouch was easy,” she says. “The hard part was figuring out how to attach it to myself.” Her mom suggested she use magnets to secure it to her clothing. And thus was born the first Running Buddy — a small pouch that folds over on itself like a wallet around the runner’s waistband. For a year, Bradfield ran with her homemade contraption. “When I put it on, I always thought, ‘There’s got to be other people who would like to have something like this.’” Turns out she was right. After a year of navigating the tricky process of getting the Running Buddy on store shelves, she finally launched her product online in October, then Run On! on Mockingbird Lane began carrying it in November. Soon people began giving her the ultimate compliment: “After a while, I forget I even have it on.” It’s big enough to hold a phone, lightweight and sweat proof. It’s “manly” enough that men feel comfortable snapping it on, yet trendy enough that women who aren’t even runners buy them to wear to the fair or when they travel. Think of it as the hip kid sister of yesteryear’s fanny pack.
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