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“We visited We Run Uptown and all of a sudden we thought we could do the same. Let’s bring this to the Bronx. We got this. We can do this. Right? There’s going to be tons of people who want to run. Pshhh…yeah right.
First of all, we had to come up with a cool name. Boogie Down was perfect and it stuck. It could not have gotten better than that. That was the first step.
The next step was where do we want to run and when do we want to run? We came up with that and it took us a couple of months to figure out a start date. We started an Instagram page. We did what everyone else was doing because we can do it too.
We put out a date. We got like 30 to 40 followers. We were rockin’. May 30, 2017…Yeah nobody shows up. It’s just me and JP waiting around and seeing if anybody paid attention to the post. I know we got a bunch of friends and family following us so hopefully, somebody saw it. That was the first week and that’s when we realized it was going to take a lot more than just posting and showing up to the meetup spot.
We had another idea. We invited some of our own friends and promised them maybe a beer after the run to come out with us and try to run with us. We tried to get whoever it was so we could take a group picture and post the group picture. We had three of four friends come out and if you scroll all the way down to the Boogie Down Bronx Runners’ first post, you’ll see those where it’s me, JP and five other friends as if we just ran and were a cool running crew.
Of course, that didn’t work. Then we went to flyers and started putting flyers all over the place.
We just wanted to get people out. We knew what could come of it. It was just a matter of how do we get people to this run?
It was just consistency and not giving up. We kept up with it and kept showing up.”
Lenny Grullon is one of the founders of the Boogie Down Bronx Runners, which is a group that comes out in full force at the New York City Marathon. It gets loud when you cross over into the Bronx and see their black and white shirts and flags. In this episode, you’ll learn about how that group came to be because when it all started no one initially showed up. You’ll learn about what also got Lenny started running late in his life and has kept him motivated to inspire others in his community. Outside of running, Lenny also shares what it’s been like being the Dean of Culture at DREAM Charter School in East Harlem and being a father of four in this pandemic.
– “Running is definitely cooler this day and age. Without a doubt. I think it’s definitely picking up within the youth and within adults…Now, running has become such a cool thing and such a cool sport and such an inspiring sport as well. It’s become so much bigger. It’s available to more…Because of the boom within the New York City running community within the last four to six years, the diversity of running has grown. I think the youth has seen that as well and that’s something that really touches the youth where they’re seeing more people that look like them that are running. I think that helps as well. There’s definitely been a huge change.”
– “I don’t think I’ve seen this many people running in the Bronx. If you wanted to go and see people running in the Bronx a few years ago, you would have had to go to Van Cortlandt. That’s where you saw your runners running. If you went to a track, you’d see people running but mostly people who are just trying to stay in shape and stay fit. As far as runners, like long-distance runners or road runners, that has picked up tremendously. You see them everywhere. Anywhere you are in the Bronx now, you’re going to catch someone running by. It’s no longer a thing that’s looked at as something weird. Now people in our community are used to people just running and it’s no longer a surprise.”
– “With family comes a lot of responsibilities. With a lot of responsibilities can come a less active lifestyle is how I guess I can put it. I got caught up in life and just tried to work my ass off and raise the kids that I kind of let loose with myself as far as health and wellness was concerned. It wasn’t really a priority. I didn’t really care what I looked like…From like 22 to 34, health just wasn’t a real priority for me…How I felt about myself physically wasn’t something I cared about but it should have been. I came to realize that as I got older and when I hit 240 pounds on the scale.”
– “I don’t know why exactly I chose running but I know the way I was able to motivate myself was that in 2015, I signed up for an obstacle race. It was a short race about 5K with some obstacles in there. I signed up to give me something to work toward. I was starting to feel that I needed to change and do something better for myself. I was doing better for everyone else but I wasn’t doing anything for myself. I signed up for this race and I can’t even run a mile at this point. I can’t even run half a mile. I started figuring out ways. I started watching YouTube videos on how can I get started, how can I get running? I started half a mile at a time. I think that’s what did it for me. I was able to get to half a mile. Then I was able to get to a mile. But the progress was happening and it was right in front of my eyes…All of a sudden, I’m running two miles and I can breathe…That progress and continuing that, I started to fall in love with that. I finally got to the three-mile mark. It took me about two to three months to be able to run a 5K without having to stop. That was my goal: How can I get there without stopping? I knew that running a 5K right off the go was not the right way to start so I knew I had to build up to that. I got to the 5k, ran the obstacle race and had the time of my life. It was awesome. I felt so accomplished. I hadn’t lost that many pounds. I might have lost maybe 15 to 16 pounds but the feeling was what did it for me. That’s what got me addicted to running. From there on, I started signing up for every obstacle race I could sign up for.”
– “That addiction to running came from that accomplished feeling. It comes from so many levels. It could be ‘I just ran my first mile without stopping’ to ‘I just ran a 90-minute half marathon.’ It comes from so many levels and that’s the beautiful thing about the running and one of the things I fell in love with.”
– “There’s that feeling of uncertainty. Did I prep enough for this? Once you start running and get to that finish line, all of that goes away. The feeling overpowers any feeling of nervousness that you had beforehand. Honestly, you start to get an itch for the next one. It’s almost immediate with running. You itch for the next race. That’s how powerful your first race can be no matter how nervous or anxious you might get because of it.”
– “I try to inspire people so they can feel this. You have to feel this. That was the reason behind the Boogie Down Bronx Runners period. The reason why I went to JP and said, ‘Hey! Want to try and start a run club so more people can try to run with us?’ He was like, ‘That already exists. People are doing that already. There are crews all over the place.’ That’s when he introduced me to WRU Crew…We went to check it out and they’ve been doing it for a while. This is in early 2017. I saw what they were doing. I saw the diversity. Not just the diversity as far as race but the diversity but among the levels of runners that they were able to bring out for a 5K community run and just how happy they were. I was like, ‘We need to bring that to the Bronx!’”