Everything about this small book OUTSIDE/in Boston by Sarah Gearhart is delightful. The book is an experience that begins with the color and the texture of the binding continues into the emotive introduction and carries on throughout the clean, satisfying aesthetic. Most importantly, the stories within are joyful, heart-wrenching, inviting, inspiring. Whether a lover of reading, a lover of running, a lover of Boston or simply someone intrigued by the power of human potential, this is one to keep close and dig into again and again.
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FB: I love the mix of stories, people that are world-famous, Boston famous, people that will be. How did you find the stories?
Sarah: A lot of research! I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2010 and again in 2011 and had traveled to the city for press events in years past. So, I had some ideas for the guide, but I also read about the history of the Boston Marathon and was fortunate to connect with in-the-know local runners before I actually arrived in Boston for more on-the-ground exploring and interviewing. The running community in Boston is quite supportive, and from what I experienced, people were really eager to provide insight into what makes the city so appealing as a runner.
FB: Okay I also LOVE the map graphics and the people sharing their favorite routes, once you see them it’s like of course, they are meant to be, but you could have done the book without them. How did those and the current layout come to be? Did you always know you were going to work with Jens Nink?
Sarah: I was in Berlin last spring to run the half marathon and was introduced to Jens through a mutual friend. Meeting Jens felt like I was reconnecting with a childhood friend. Our energies are really complementary, and he's insanely talented. I instinctively knew we'd work well together. So we collaborated for the first guide of the series, Outside/in Berlin, which was released last September in advance of the Berlin Marathon.
I admittedly have a map fixation. I actually collect maps. So, of course, I knew we'd have a few in the travel guide. I think maps are a nice addition because the majority of the routes were recommended by local runners, and it's an authentic steering point and a personal touch.
FB: Do you have a favorite story or favorite fact that you learned during the process, something unexpected or previously unknown?
Sarah: So many! Everyone I interviewed shared unexpected comments.
When I spoke with 50-time marathoner Ben Beach, he told me a story about the morning of his first Boston Marathon in 1968 -- he ate steak in what was formerly the Harvard Square Cafeteria. It was fascinating listening to his stories about racing the Boston Marathon in the 60s and 70s. The running scene was so different compared to what it's become.
I also had no idea that there exists a running club for boxers -- it's part of EverybodyFights, a boxing-fitness studio founded by George Foreman III.
There's a 12-foot white oak table at an Italian restaurant in Cambridge called Giulia. The table is used during the day as a workspace for rolling out fresh dough and hand cutting homemade pasta. In the evening, the table is transformed into a communal dining table. I had an opportunity to watch in person and also interview one of the owners of the restaurant. It's pretty cool.
FB: Where on earth is LeAndrew Belnavis running in that 2-page spread?! With all the colors on the ground? So cool!
Sarah: Interesting, right? It's so stunning in person. The area is called Underground at Ink Block on Traveler Street in the South End. It's under an overpass and is full of colorful street art.
FB: What sparked the seed and how did you make it from that initial seed to the process of having a completed book?
Sarah: I'd always wanted to create a travel resource for runners, as it's aligned with my lifestyle throughout my professional writing career. My first job out of college, an assistant editor for a sports performance publication, I traveled all the time --sometimes multiple times a month. And it became a habit to tote a mini Moleskin, which I'd fill with researching on where to run, healthy restaurants and such because I would often be training for a race when I traveled so it was my way of staying intact on the road.
I'd never come across a resource that aggregated travel tips through the lens of running illustrated in an artful way, so it became a goal to create one.
Freebie: One of my favorite quotes from this book:
“Let me push it more.”
Geoffrey Mutai recalling his thoughts before breaking the Boston Marathon course record in 2011.
As is always the case with Sarah’s writing, it brings you in and makes you just want to run and travel and generally thrive. Sarah will be running Boston this year, so follow her on the course or on social and pick up your copy soon!