These additional facets of the business started by accident when Chris McDoogle, author of Born to run
, chose Run and Become as the UK site for his book launch. McDoogle contacted Run and Become after learning that the store sponsored the Sri Chinmoy Athletics Club. “I got this call and this manuscript through the post, which sat on my desk for a few weeks,” Shankara recalls. “I had no idea who he was, or what the book would become. Eventually, I picked it up – and by the end of the first page I was hooked.”
The book launch went so well that Dipika and Shankara decided to host more events, and soon talks by authors and physiotherapists became a regular part of their calendar. They currently run a drop-in clinic at the Eccleston Street store every Tuesday, but are also planning a series of preparation events leading up to the Marathon de Sables – a six-day, 251km ultramarathon held in the Sahara Desert in April – in addition to talks on the London Marathon.
Move to Belgravia
In November 2015, the London branch moved from Palmer Street to its current residence on Eccleston Street. “We thought it would be a big wrench, having been there for 33 years, but the move went very smoothly,” Shankara reveals.
“You come to realise that you move the soul of a company with you,” adds Dipika. “As soon as we opened, we knew that this was us.”
Along with great new running routes, the new location provides more space –inside and out. All staff are trained in natural gait analysis (the study of human motion), and the broad stretch of pavement outside the store is the perfect area for monitoring the effect of new running shoes. “We’re in a place where you feel like you can breathe,” Shankara explains. “It’s also a beautiful area and the local shop owners are lovely; there’s a real sense of community.”
“It’s nice to have so many independent brands nearby,” Dipika adds. “For us, the diversity here is brilliant, because we’re also unique. We love the little pooches we get in here, too. We’ve started buying dog biscuits from Mungo & Maud
so we’re ready for them!”
Cute canines aren’t their only VIP customers. Just weeks ago, Eddie Izzard stopped by to stock up on running gear before embarking on a staggering 27 marathons in 27 days across South Africa – one for every year Nelson Mandela spent in prison – to raise money for Sport Relief. Since completing a similar feat in 2009 in the UK (43 marathons in 51 days), Izzard’s been a regular customer.
It’s fitting that the comedian’s determination, like that of Dipika and Shankara, echoes the sentiment that kick-started the business 34 years ago. “Running helps us considerably,” Sri Chinmoy once said. “Because of our running, we feel that there is a goal – not only an outer goal but also an inner goal.”