At the end of each year, running store owners, staff and run specialty vendors come from all over the country for a 4 day event in Austin, Texas fittingly called The Running Event. After days of seminars, events and expo, it culminates in an awards banquet that recognizes some of the best in the running industry. Much to the surprise and delight of the management team from Salt Lake Running Company, their co-owner and CFO, Debbie Perry, was chosen as the 2018 recipient of the Nike Just Do it Award. This award is given an outstanding women executive in run specialty retail whose leadership serves as an example for others to follow. Scott Gravatt, national run specialty director for Nike, said Perry’s track record in the business, as an athlete and a coach made her a deserving honoree.
Perry raced as an elite level runner and triathlete for 25 years. Along the way she has gathered such accolades as being a Weber State cross country and track athlete competing in 12 conference championships, earning the title of Big Sky Conference track champion in the 3000 meter and leading her team for the first time in WSU history to the NCAA Div 1 Cross Country National Championship. Following the many years of competitive running, Debbie switched to triathlon and once again rose to the top as a many time All- American, multiple world championship qualifier and eventually became the #1 ranked triathlete in the U.S. in the 35-39 age group.
As a freshly graduated Physics teaching major, Perry immediately wanted to begin coaching others. August of 1992 was the beginning of her still ongoing coaching career. Her time has been spent coaching a variety of athletes from beginner to elite in both distance running and triathlon. Debbie’s athletes have won state championships, set school records, become all Americans and raced in World Championships. And yet, some of her more equally satisfying experiences has been watching athletes of all levels achieve personal records that exceeded their expectations and fall in love with the daily journey of endurance sport.
While Debbie and her husband, Guy, started Salt Lake Running Company 25 years ago, it was decided early on that Debbie would only work from home overseeing the financial side of SLRC so she could be a stay at home mom to their, eventually, 5 children. On August 1st, 2016 as the Perry children began sprouting wings, going off to college and doing church service in foreign countries, Guy finally asked Debbie to add additional responsibilities to her repertoire and begin working at SLRC full time. This invitation led Debbie to add apparel buyer, buying department manager and marketing manager to her existing Chief Financial Officer duties. It was an unexpected path, but one that has provided Perry many fulfilling professional experiences and opportunities to connect with the Salt Lake community.
When asked what the award means to her, Debbie responded, “I feel deeply honored to receive the 2018 Nike Just Do it Award. As an athletic woman growing up during the early Title IX years, I have been inspired by the motto ‘Just Do It’ for many years. That simple statement embodies a power and strength that crosses over into all aspects of my life. The Just Do It attitude has given me permission to continue moving forward through difficult challenges both personally and professionally, I have been motivated to do the impossible, the unthinkable and unattainable. Good things come to those wait, but better things come to those who take action. This resolute message gives us permission to embrace what others see as chaos…and bring it to order. I express sincere thanks to Nike and the running specialty channel for their vote of confidence. And I give many thanks to my great management team and sales staff at SLRC for supporting me and the people in our active lifestyle community. They all have worked hard to help SLRC become one of the best shops in the country and it is clear that this award isn’t mine, it’s ours. ”