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We believe that There’s a runner in all of us. Since opening our doors in 1982 our aim has been to serve runners; providing the highest level of customer service, advice and motivation. Over time we have evolved to offer a range of specialised services, bringing together the best technical running products, sports therapy and inspirational coaching all under one roof. Through it all our goal as a family business remains the same: Inspire and serve runners of all backgrounds.
“Before I knew it, for once in my life, I was helping lead a boom in road running.”
– Ongkar Tony Smith
Ongkar Tony Smith had never planned to be a runner – his first love was rugby, followed closely by cricket. Inspired by his meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy, in the 70s he decided to give this sport a chance.
From the moment he ran his first marathon in 1979, Tony realised he was hooked. He had become a runner and he loved it. But … where were the running shops?
Sri Chinmoy’s advice: open your own! And so a spark of inspiration took hold; he could serve fellow runners and follow his new passion. In June 1982, Tony and his wife Cherry opened the doors of Run and Become, London, for the first time. And as he once said: “Before I knew it, for once in my life, I was helping lead a boom in road running.”
Now over 40 years later, we are proud to say we were one of the UK’s first running shops. We remain independent and family run.
Our main focus is to provide the ever-growing running community with expert advice, an exhaustive range and a place to exchange ideas and inspiration. With that in mind, we organise races, host free workshops and partner with sports practitioners to help people run better and recover faster.
We have always seen Run and Become as more than a running shop. Our aim is to serve and inspire runners through our expert advice team who have uncompromising knowledge on running gear and training, plus the skill to read our customers’ needs.
We are a family business that has learned to value diversity and multiculturalism as a source of opportunity. The members of our Run and Become family come from diverse backgrounds and each one of them is essential to our success. In what is a traditionally male - dominated industry, our team has always been interested in supporting women runners and promoting women in our company. Over the years we’ve expanded our team and trained women into our top roles.
Run and Become started out, and remains, a family business. While it was originally managed by Ongkar Tony Smith and his wife Cherry, their daughters have been working in the business for more years than they care to admit. Tony passed away in 2006, and Cherry in 2020, after full lives, but their ethos for the business remains; provide the best combination of selection, advice, and encouragement for the running community, and give our staff a safe and inspiring place to work.
Ours is a caring team. Everyone is listened to and encouraged to contribute their ideas. All of our members are super skilled, unique and essential to us, and without them we would not be where we are. We’re committed to supporting them and growing – together.
“Some of our staff are fantastic runners who have years of experience of participating in marathons and ultra races, others are 'normal' people who simply enjoy going out a couple of times a week to get the sense of enjoyment and satisfaction that only running can bring you”
– Dipika Smith, Co-Owner.
Run and Become was founded with the sole aim of serving the running community, at a time when purely running shops didn’t exist. We started as a sports shop offering shoes for many different disciplines but with the main focus on running.
We started organising races in conjunction with the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in London’s Battersea Park – anything from a mile to a Marathon – along with Ultra Races.
As the technology in running shoes evolved, shoes were getting softer. This meant some runners needed extra support, so anti-pronation shoes appeared on the market for the first time.
So, how were runners to know what type of support they needed? We were the first shop to use Natural Gait Analysis to assess people’s running style and advise them on the correct footwear for their footstrike. Over the years we tested various gait analysis machines, but we would somehow always come back to it, as a more effective solution.
By 1991, we'd dropped all other sports and were focussed purely on running. This was also the time that we opened our second branch.
We had no intention of going back on our pledge to stock the fullest range any runner could need, so as full ranges started to appear in racing shoes, trail shoes and fell, we needed more space!
We’d been offering mail order services for some years, now we started our first website and we were one of the first running stores to have one.
As our online store started to grow, at that time we couldn’t offer online shoe fitting advice, so we were inspired to connect with runners in another way. We set about creating valuable content for all on our blog: recovery, stretching, running experiences, etc.
With sad but grateful hearts we honoured the passing of founder Ongkar Tony Smith. His daughters, along with Cherry, who had worked alongside him for many years, now worked together to continue the family’s quest to always be of service to runners.
“The most expensive shoe is not necessarily the good shoe for you”
– Cherry Smith
We knew that a successful runner needed more than the perfect running kit, so we wanted to offer more benefits to our customers. We launched our free in-store events, offering sessions designed to inform and improve performance; hosting coaching experts, GB International runners and sports practitioners who offer expert advice and inspiration to runners of all backgrounds.
As we moved our London branch to a new, larger location we wanted to expand our services to runners, so we opened our Sports Clinic room. Now we could offer runners the entire package, from kit to coaching to injury reward and prevention treatments.
2020 brought never-imagined changes to our world. Our response was to launch Online Gait Analysis, which enables us to fit running shoes remotely. It proved such a success that we’ve continued to offer this service post-pandemic, as it enables us to connect even more with the running world.
Our goal to serve runners in the best way possible will continue to lead our evolution as a brand. Whilst some of our bricks and mortar branches have proved unsustainable, we continue to develop and find new ways to serve runners and to connect even more with the running world.
It was Sri Chinmoy and his philosophy of challenging the limits we impose on ourselves, reaching beyond our goals, that inspired Ongkar’s running. Sri Chinmoy was so enthusiastic about the idea of this running shop that he even offered it a name, and that’s where Run and Become came from.
“Run and become.
Become and run.
Run to succeed in the outer world.
Become to proceed in the inner world.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“We simply love running.”
– Shankara Smith, Co-Owner
Run and Become exists because Tony Smith loved running and back in the 80s couldn’t find anywhere that catered to his needs as a runner. But that’s not the whole story; Tony’s love of running – and the belief that he could open his own business – was inspired by Sri Chinmoy…
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“Superb customer service offered by very personable and knowledgeable staff. Would happily recommend.”
– Nick Johnson, Google+
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While supplying you with the best gear to lessen the impact of running on your body, we also constantly strive to lessen our own environmental impact.
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