BC Grads Take Heartbreak Hill in Stride

Most freshmen come to Boston College without the slightest clue of their passions and career choice, but Dan Fitzgerald and Justin Burdon, '00, were outliers.

Graduating from BC as best buds, the track team athletes set off into their respective future careers. One of Dan’s passions included surfing, which prompted him to follow his passion for surfing and take a job as a sales representative for Quiksilver. On the other end of the spectrum, Justin chose to pursue a career in accounting by becoming a CPA.

However, these careers were not enough to satisfy the BC graduates as they both naturally gravitated toward running and, together, forged their own path by establishing Heartbreak Hill Running Company, a store for runners and athletes alike located in Newton Centre--a mere skip from BC's main campus.

The combination of both Dan and Justin’s skill sets worked perfectly for a start-up business. Dan was familiar with the retail industry while Justin was able to handle the financial and accounting aspects of running a business.

They both share a love for track; they were track stars on the varsity team at BC until they graduated in 2000, and according to a Boston Magazine review, still "tack up their BC track team journals" at their newest store on Tremont Street.

Dan even worked at a running store and coached BC track at one point before turning towards Quiksilver. With the combination of retail experience, knowledge of how to run a business and a shared enthusiasm for running, Dan and Justin ventured out to begin their dream of Heartbreak Hill Running Company.

For those of you who have had your head in the sand and do not know where Heartbreak Hill is, tisk tisk. It's a well-known obstacle for runners between the mile 20 and 21 marks on the Boston Marathon course. And even though it is just another hill, it's the last of the four major hills in Newton and is located at a crucial point in the marathon route where runners are likely to feel energy-depleted. Basically, it is one of the toughest moments in a runner’s quest to the finish line.

Heartbreak Hill Running Company gets its namesake from a marathon runner's nightmare, but Dan and Justin see it as a symbol of appreciation and a crafty business concept.

According to Laura Krantz of mysouthend.com, Dan and Justin like to think of their store as “fun and more boutique-y than just your average running store.”

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of MDouglas/ Wikimedia Commons

It's a new, vibrant athletic store that appeals to young people, and it's not solely a running company as they also sell yoga mats and Oakley Frog Sunglasses to try to differentiate themselves.

Not only do Dan and Justin promote their products and the culture of fitness, but the founders also make available training routes and personal coaches. On the company's website, users have the option to contact a personal trainer to improve their running ability, or to even train for upcoming races. It fosters a community in Newton that is present every Saturday and Sunday morning for those of us early birds.

Taking any bus on Comm. Ave. during a weekend will most likely include the sight of a swarm of strikingly colorful runners, training for the marathon. Anybody slightly interested in pursuing the challenge of a marathon should definitely check out this scene on weekend mornings, as it is a community of people supporting, encouraging, and pushing themselves to reach and surpass their goals.

I believe that this is the type of idea that Heartbreak Hill Running Club stimulates, making it an intriguing company that I plan on visiting very soon.

Plus I hear they give BC students a discount.

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