Many a runner has asked us where and how we started RunBoston—“Where did this fabulous idea come from?” they ask. Well, unlace your sneaks and we’ll fill you in on the dirty details about the couple who started it all, the how, and the why.
Abby: We’ve run many a long—and short—mile together, many in preparation for our favorite local races, and even more for the sheer joy of logging happy miles together along some of Boston’s beautiful paths and streets. One mid-fall run found us logging some long miles around the Charles River. I was fresh off of several out-of-state work trips, and was lamenting my lack of an internal GPS—that is, the fact that I was wary of doing more than out and back runs in unfamiliar cities due to a fear of getting lost, which meant that my runs tended to be a little dull.
We started talking about how much fun it would be if runners could sign up for guided running tours of unfamiliar cities. I’d given my cousin a 9-mile running tour a couple years earlier, and we both already knew what a great running city Boston is. This led to what I initially thought was a vague “what if…” type of conversation.
Jared: Immediately I thought Abby was on to something big. We went home and did some research over the official runner’s “brew”—cold Gatorade—and were surprised to see that while many other cities around the world offered running tours, there was no one doing it in Boston. Given Boston’s reputation as the Mecca of running, we couldn’t believe our luck.
Within about a week and a half, I had a basic website up and running (this was the first version of the RunBoston website—we later went through several versions before settling on the current design). We thought about our favorite routes in and around Boston, and what runners new to the city might like to see, and put those on our website as possible pre-mapped courses.
Abby: Some of the routes we included on the website included some of our own accidental finds, like the Loch Ness Loop (a mid-run change of route led to a GPS map that looked alarmingly like good ‘ol Nessie, but was flat and fast), and some old favorites, like the Last 9, a hilly run from mile 17 of the historic Boston Marathon course.
Jared: But where we really wanted to focus was customized tours—what did runners want to see in our city? We wanted to make sure that runners got their miles in, but even more than that, we wanted to make sure they saw the sites they were most interested in, whether that was Bunker Hill, the Freedom Trail, Heartbreak Hill, or the shops on Newbury Street. Because of that, we made a commitment to personalize tours as best we could—we’d go where each runner wanted, at the pace they wanted, and run as many miles as they wanted to join us for.
Abby: That sometimes led to some long runs! One of our first runs was with a runner from upstate New York; this was back when Jared and I did all the tours ourselves, often together. For this run, we’d planned to run around 9 miles the day before the (in)famous St. Paddy’s parade in South Boston.
Jared: We ended up running through a torrential downpour. At one point, Abby had to stop to wring the water out of her gloves. It was a great run, though, and remains one of our favorites. We’ve been lucky enough meet and run with great people from all over the world, and this run was no exception. We couldn’t believe how much we enjoyed sharing two of our passions—running and Boston—with other runners.
Abby: From there, things sort of took off. As the weather warmed up, more and more runners came out of the woodwork, and we found ourselves giving tours more and more often. Pretty soon, we realized it was time for us to start looking for guides to help us give tours—there was starting to be too many for us to keep doing them ourselves!
Jared: We met a lot of local fellow runners who told us they’d thought about starting a running tour company in the past, but had never followed through with it. That sometimes led to us meeting runners who were as passionate about sharing their love of Boston as we were. The first summer we were in business, we hired two additional guides, and by the fall, we were looking for more.
Abby: The next few years brought a lot of changes for RunBoston and for us personally. Jared did a phenomenal job with the website and various ways of getting our name out, and the company continued to grow, and we continued to add guides. We toyed with adding a monthly group run several times, and finally did in 2012.
Jared: We wanted to make sure our focus stayed on the personalized tours that we, and the runners that ran with us, had come to love so much, but we also wanted to add an option for locals who might already be familiar with the city, but wanted to meet other runners, or get a quick refresher on all that Boston had to offer. The group run turned out to be the perfect mix.
In the meantime, though, things had been changing within our personal lives as well—Abby and I had welcomed our first child in the spring of 2011, and were finding that we had less and less time to devote to RunBoston, despite our love for it.
Abby: By fall of 2012, we knew we were expecting our second child, and had started to think about the future of RunBoston—what was next for our labor of love? We knew that we didn’t want to close the doors, but we also knew that it was going to be increasingly difficult to devote as much time to the company as it deserved.
Jared: Ultimately, we decided to turn the reins over to one of our most passionate (and accomplished) running guides, Wayne Levy. We knew that Wayne would take care of RunBoston in a way that we would be proud of—and also take the company to new heights. So it was with fondness, and both sad and happy hearts, as owners, we bid goodbye to RunBoston at the close of 2012.
Abby: We are excited about what the future holds for RunBoston, and know that we’ll never be far from our wonderful city, its well-beaten running paths, and our RunBoston family.