Freedom Trail Run (www.freedomtrailrun.com) takes large groups on a 5K course that covers, yes, the Freedom Trail. The $40 tours start at the corner of Park and Tremont streets and finish at the Charlestown Navy Yard with a ferry ride to Long Wharf. Private group tours are available for $20 to $40 per person.
City Running Tours (www.cityrunningtours.com) draws crowds with its 10K Boston Seaport Beer Run that starts at Fish Pier and finishes with a tour of the Harpoon Brewery. The company, which has outposts in large cities across the country from Philadelphia to Minneapolis-St. Paul to Seattle, also offers a 10K run through the North End and 5K runs through Beacon Hill-Back Bay and Cambridge-MIT. Prices range from $25 for 5K runs to $45 for 10K Beer Runs. Additionally, you can arrange personalized runs that cost $75 for up to 6 miles, with $5 each additional mile.
“I love sharing the city with people,” said Brian McCarthy, manager for City Running Tours in Boston and a marathoner. “Half of my clients are local and they have never seen the city this way. They didn’t know where Paul Revere was buried or about the Custom House. I’m a history buff and I’ve turned a lot of my guides into history buffs, too. Plus, a lot of them have their own things to offer, especially the ones that live in the city.”
McCarthy admits he sometimes turns people away from his 10K Boston Seaport Beer Runs because he prefers manageable groups of roughly a dozen runners accompanied by a couple of guides. Multiple guides ensure that every runner has a good experience, even if they keep a slower pace. Most guides find that running tours naturally settle into a nine- to 10-minute-per-mile pace. That said, the Freedom Trail Run tour promotes its 16 stops and suitability for beginners, covering 5K in roughly 90 minutes.
The 10K Boston Seaport Beer Run traverses an impressive amount of territory, about 6.8 miles, in 90 minutes. The tour gives runners a look at old and new Boston, heading down Seaport Boulevard to the Rose Kennedy Greenway to Post Office Square to the Boston Common to the Freedom Trail. The route winds its way to the TD Garden for pictures with the Bobby Orr statue and to the North End, coming to a scenic crescendo as runners jump on and off the HarborWalk on the way back to the Seaport District.
“For me, it was absolutely the way to do my first 10K,” said Amy Blackwell of Hudson, N.H. “I knew that it would be a run with a twist and that I could finish it. You don’t even realize you’re running as far as you’re going because you’re listening to everything Brian is telling you. You get kind of lost in that. I felt we were learning more of the hidden secrets of the city rather than the touristy stuff. Then, to cap it off, doing a tour of the Harpoon Brewery was a blast.”
Running tours tend to be particularly popular with women, who face more safety concerns when running in an unfamiliar city. That initially drew Erin Lynch of Halifax, Nova Scotia, to RunBoston.
“I didn’t know the city of Boston at all and wanted to run, but I didn’t want to go alone,” said Lynch, now a repeat customer. “I Googled running Boston. I was flabbergasted that something like running tours existed and got really excited about it. The tours have become highlights of my trips to Boston.”
The final leg of my tour stretches over the Longfellow Bridge into Cambridge, then returns to the Back Bay via the Harvard Bridge. It’s a section along the Charles River that I run almost every day. But as part of a running tour, it somehow looks different as I learn about the full length of the river and the various nicknames for bridges. With warm weather coming, I expect other familiar routes will look different, at least when they are colored by groups of fleet-footed tourists.
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.