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Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) was a highly regarded spiritual teacher who advocated a combination of spiritual discipline and physical fitness. Were it not for Sri Chinmoy, our shops simply wouldn’t exist, so it was fitting that Sri Chinmoy named the enterprise ‘Run and Become, Become and Run’.
His love of running began in his youth. At the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India he would train at the track for a long time each day, in addition to the many hours he spent in meditation and other activities.
After coming to America in 1964, Sri Chinmoy took up long-distance running, completing many marathons, ultra-marathons and shorter races. He also founded the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, which organises hundreds of races across the world each year, including the famous 3,100 Mile Race in New York.
Sri Chinmoy’s integral approach to living encourages physical fitness and sports as a vehicle for personal transformation and inner peace. Inspired by his example, many of his students have learned to extend their own personal limits – setting new world records in various fields, running multi-day races, swimming the English Channel and climbing some of the world’s highest mountains.
In some 60 countries around the world, meditation students follow Sri Chinmoy's inspiration to lead a balanced lifestyle that incorporates the inner disciplines of prayer and meditation with the dynamism of contemporary life. During his own life, Sri Chinmoy regularly travelled throughout the world to offer free concerts, lectures and public meditations, to meet with his students, and to meet and discuss spirituality with world and community leaders. He did not charge a fee for his spiritual guidance, concerts, lectures and public meditations.
Sri Chinmoy passed away on October 11, 2007 at his home in New York, aged 76 years.
Ongkar Tony Smith, the co-founder of Run and Become, took up running in the late 70s. His first sporting-loves were rugby and cricket. Later he was introduced to running by his mediation teacher, Sri Chinmoy, and was hooked. Tony ran his first marathon in 1979 and by 1981, the inaugural year of the London Marathon, he realised there were other people around who felt the same way about running as he did. “Before I knew it, for once in my life, I was helping lead a boom, in road running.” But something was missing – there didn’t seem to be any shops that catered for this boom – and so the idea of their own sports shop was born.
Over the years, as Run and Become became better established, Tony and Cherry used its strength to support various running events. They organised the Runners are Smilers races with the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and their friendly, fun approach made the races some of the simplest and best in the country. Tony also spearheaded the UK legs of the International Peace Run. Following the teachings of Sri Chinmoy, Tony and Cherry saw Run and Become not just as a business, but also a way of serving the community and giving back to the sport they loved. The ethos of Service continues to be at the very heart of Run and Become.
Tony passed away in February 2006. He is remembered as a decent, kind-hearted and generous man, with a big smile and deafening laugh. The joy that emanated from him came from his huge heart.
Cherry, co-founder of Run and Become, was much loved by our customers, in fact there were quite a few who would come in and refuse to be served by anyone else.
Never much of a runner herself, she used to say she got her exercise running after her family and going up and downstairs all day whilst serving customers: Stairmaster and job rolled into one! Her regular gym sessions also had something to do with it. What she might have lacked in experience from a runner’s perspective was irrelevant because she brought to her role an incredible eye, great instinct, knowledge built up over decades and a healthy dose of common sense.
Cherry led the evolution of the business from a sports shop focusing on running to a running specialty shop offering Natural Gait Analysis to everyone. Love, care and an incredible instinct for what was causing injury or holding a runner back from achieving their goals meant that her reputation grew from our first shop on Palmer Street. Thanks to Cherry, we started to get referrals from doctors, osteopaths and podiatrists all round London: ‘Go see Cherry at Run and Become, she’ll sort you out.’ There was even one instance when a Harley Street Doctor told his patient: I don’t know what’s causing your injury, go and speak to Cherry, she’ll know what shoe will protect you – and she did!
Cherry’s motivation for both shop and family was the same: care and service. She wanted to be the best Mother (she was) and she wanted to help as many runners as she could (she did).
Cherry passed away in January 2020. Today the enterprise still remains a family business, now run by their two daughters Shankara and Dipika.
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