story by John Lintner | photos by Renier Otto
Guided tours of Memphis have been a staple of tourism for decades. Memphis Running Tours (MRT) joined the pack in 2010, but from a new perspective – sightseeing while jogging. MRT tapped a new audience then, and today it’s still expanding into new territory. I noticed a trend with my participants the last two seasons. The LGBTQ+ community represented a big cross-section of the slew of demographics that book my running tours.
I welcome everyone and want to see it become the norm here in the Bluff City. MRT provides clientele with an “experience,” more so than a stop-and-go tour. The company has broken barriers of traditional tourism through the better part of the decade. In 2018, the Memphis adventure tour outfit is more in touch with the LGBTQ runners of the world than ever before.
Honestly, I wish I had thought of this earlier. My original vision was simply to be a success in the tourism profession. What that looks like, for me, has changed over time. These days, I’m as much into genuine interaction with people as I am with sheer numbers.
My gratification and gratitude for the opportunity to serve a global and diverse audience is at a high level. I’m genuinely humbled by the opportunity this business has afforded me to interact and run with people from all over the spectrum and that includes local runners.
Most recently, we’ve teamed with runners affiliated with the downtown pub, Bardog. The sights and sounds of swaying runners, winded conversation, hoots and foot strikes traveled up and down Main Street this past Monday when the Salty Dogs met MRT. The Salty Dogs take to the streets every Monday at 7 p.m. to share their social running concept topped off with beers afterwards. The runs start and finish at Bardog on Monroe Avenue downtown. The routes vary from week to week, but now our most popular route – Downtown Loop – is included in the mix. This came after Bardog owner Aldo Dean met with me on what started as a marketing project. It has since developed into a community unification venture.
One of our Monday group runners, Virginia Meadows, recently told me how much she loves running. She said she’s ‘excited to hear’ that there’s a group who’s outwardly friendly to her and people like her. Virginia runs with her friend Sarah Faircloth.
Lintner’s tours are welcoming to all persons, LGBT and straight.
MRT, for years, has offered a choice of two routes to participants. My most recent offering to the running landscape is called the Memphis Pacers. We meet at 7 p.m. Wednesdays outside Celtic Crossing in the Cooper- Young neighborhood. The running group is open to everyone. This run serves as a chance to connect and run off a week’s worth of barbecue!
My goal is to cater to a more diverse audience by making the Memphis Pacers’ outing a free ‘tour’ of the neighborhood. It’s already making waves. Word is spreading that the group is dedicated to diversity. I want people to join not because they are this or that, but for a friendly workout. The idea is to mesh ideals through running.
The second tour MRT offers is the Midtown Hipster Run. It’s geared to those who want to break away, even more so, from the mainstream tourism experience and see sights like unique Midtown architecture, Overton Square and the Vollintine Evergreen Greenline.
We’ve garnered some unique followers with our business model since its inception in 2010. I’ve been featured in Runner’s World, Washington Post, The Commercial Appeal, and I received a letter from the office of Congressman Steve Cohen commending me for introducing Memphis to this brand of tourism.
My goal for MRT today is to continue my success on more levels than just the financial front as running tours gain footing in the U.S. and in Memphis. I’m in the process of remodeling my paid tour selections. They are two 1.5- mile tours that are variations of the Downtown Loop and the Midtown Hipster Run.
They are designed to attract runners that don’t necessarily want to run/walk three miles but do want the experience of seeing and feeling Memphis the way Memphians and the newfound Memphis Pacers do – up close, personal and from street level.
You can see all of my tours at memphisrunningtours.com.