Running, buggies and business

During a visit to the USA in which she observed the popularity of running with small children in buggies, alumna Wendy Rumble (BA Business Studies, 2002) spotted a gap in the UK market for an online business promoting, selling, and providing specialist advice about running buggies: www.runningbuggies.com. The online business exists to help parents run to sustain physical and mental wellbeing when childcare is not available, get their young children into the fresh air, and set a good parental example while having fun together. From 10ks to marathons to parkruns, running is a sport which grows in popularity every year, and Wendy’s business exists to ensure runners with young children are not left out.

IMG_2794 lowComing from Tilbrook, a rural village in Cambridgeshire, attending Hull University didn’t seem the most obvious choice to me. There were a few factors in play that changed my mind: the appeal of a campus, it being a proper ‘red brick’ university and then the attractive Hockey bursary too!

From the start I relished the new found freedom to party hard, play lots of hockey and occasionally learn stuff on my BA Business Studies course. I acquired heaps of ‘life’ lessons plus put on and then lost a few stone in weight via drinking Snakey-B followed by chips in pitta from Cottingham take-away Kismet. But what I didn’t do was go for a run. Actually that’s not true. In the first year we often sprinted from Feren’s Hall to the bus stop over the green, especially after some pre-LA’s Lambrinis.

While at Hull I worked for RedBull as their Student Brand Manager in my second and third year.   My role was to organise events including urban mountain biking races on campus, recruiting talent for regional 24-hour art shows and DJ competitions. I discovered tons about what a ‘brand’ is during that time. Plus there were the obvious perks of having cases of free RedBull to supply to sports teams and friends!

After graduating with a 2:1 (by the skin of my teeth) I secured a place on the Marks & Spencer Graduate Training Scheme at the Fenchurch Street store in London. Not really knowing what I wanted to do, getting on a graduate scheme seemed the ‘thing to do’.   However, it was not for me and I yearned for a youthful, branded environment. After a year I left to join Anheuser Busch, the American family owned (at that time) brewing giants who made Budweiser. I had a blast working there as the Field Sales environment really played to my competitive nature!

Running found me in my mid-twenties when I wanted to lose weight, without stringent dietary measures! So I signed up for the London marathon in 2008 whilst working in Account Management at Diageo. The only running races I had done before were 5k Race for Life events but I thought if 35,000* people could do it then so could I. Looking back, it was such a luxury having few commitments other than work, friends and hockey which meant I could do the training. Soon running became a new way for me to test myself and enable a healthy balance so I could still have treats and wine!

IMG_2848 lowMy brother has lived in Washington DC since he was 21. He is a very talented long distance runner. He has done over 20 marathons with a PB of 2hrs 36mins. My marathon PB is 4hr 8mins! When he had his son 6 years ago he invested in a BOB stroller to run with when Henry’s neck was strong enough, at around 6 months. He would trot out for 20 miles without thinking about it and when I was there on a visit, everywhere I looked people were running, running with buggies, and getting their Starbucks with their running buggies!

So when I had my daughter 3 years ago all I knew was there was one running buggy brand, the BoB brand. I managed to snaffle a £25 eBay bargain from an American couple in London. No one else was putting BoB into the eBay searches! And so my personal journey with buggy running began.

Mostly the runs were local errand runs. They ticked my boxes of needing to exercise, do a few jobs and get my daughter in the fresh air. When my second daughter came along in January 2015 I became more adventurous, finding lakes to run round or local beauty spots.

So many of my friends have asked me over the years what running buggies are out there and what would I recommend. When a seriously fit friend who worked in the industry also asked I realised that there was a real gap in the market. Buyers needed to read articles, go between multiple websites for specifications and prices: nothing was in one place. Many baby stores did not have the specialist knowledge to advise you on running buggies and did not have many in the range either.

So the idea of www.runningbuggies.com was born! (I’m still amazed this domain name was available in 2015!) It’s an e-commerce site where parents can compare lots of different running buggies from all the various manufacturers AND then buy the right one for them. Parents are safe in the knowledge all items listed are tried and tested by us and we regularly update the site with hints & tips for buggy running. We answer what makes a running buggy different and what are the key features to look for. We provide personal advice to people via email or phone if they need help deciding which is the right buggy for them and this year we’re extending into more accessories too.

IMG_2666-2 lowRunning with a buggy is fantastic for so many reasons. It means you can get out and exercise when you don’t have childcare options, which is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It means your little one gets out in the fresh air PLUS it set’s a brilliant example to your young ones about exercising as part of life.

Having a Sales and Marketing background, starting my own business was using skills I had, but learning plenty of others too. I had long forgotten my lecturer Dennis Scanlan’s first year Accountancy skills. And obviously back at the turn of the millennium we didn’t cover key aspects of Digital Marketing which are the very core of my current online business.

Running with a buggy is a fast growing sector and general running is booming, with 75,000 of us Brits enjoying Parkrun every week.* I hope that 2016 will see even more parents getting out running with a running buggy and that we can help them buy the perfect one!

Check us out www.runningbuggies.com and on twitter @runningbuggies1, Instgram: Runningbuggies & Facebook as RunningBuggies.com

*London Marathon expo.

*Parkrun weekly newsletters

(c) Wendy Rumble, 2016

 

Are you a Hull alumnus or alumna with a story to tell? Email us at alumni@hull.ac.uk

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