Meet the four tech-company founders running their first marathon for local charities

The TUGG Marathon Team: (From left to right) Michael Schmidt, Brent Grinna, Matt Bellows, and Fred Shilmover.
The TUGG Marathon Team: (From left to right) Michael Schmidt, Brent Grinna, Matt Bellows, and Fred Shilmover.

One of the first groups to begin raising money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings was a collection of founders, venture capitalists, and employees from the local tech and innovation community, and startup- and entrepreneur-focused nonprofit TUGG helped lead that effort.

As a way of saying thanks, the Boston Athletic Association gave TUGG four entries to this year’s Marathon.

So what did TUGG decide to do? The organization, which helps nonprofits that focus on everything from science programs for girls to entrepreneurial education for inner city students, put the entries toward its mission of boosting other local causes.

For this year’s Boston Marathon, TUGG has enlisted four local tech executives, none of whom have ever run a marathon before, who will each run in the name of one of the TUGG-related charities.

In addition to raising money through the runners, TUGG also has plans for what it is calling the Startup Mile, for which it hopes to have employees from many Boston-based startups at Mile 18 on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton cheering on the four runners.

Making the entire enterprise somewhat entertaining is just how unique the experience has been for each member of TUGG’s marathon team:

The Dude

Fred Shilmover, the co-founder and chief executive of Cambridge-based business intelligence company InsightSquared, is running this year’s Marathon for InnerCity Weightlifting.

Shilmover, who is probably happiest tailgating before a Patriots game, is a graduate of Tufts and Harvard Business School and worked at Bessemer Venture Partners, Salesforce, and HubSpot before starting InsightSquared. He has also played a key role in getting more attention and opportunities for InnerCity Weightlifting, which is opening its own Kendall Square facility in the same building that houses Shilmover’s growing company.

For Shilmover, running the Marathon is a completely new experience. “I’ve never run more than five miles,” he said. “And I’m not a good athlete.”

“When I would run, I would run two or three miles,” Shilmover said. “But now I’m running longer distances, I realize that for my first two or three miles I really suck, and once I break through that, I feel more like I could run forever.”

Shilmover — who calls himself the “worst athlete of the group” — said that in terms of race day, other than being worried about hurting himself, he feels ready because of the confidence he’s gained working with professional coach Erik Hajer and training the rest of the TUGG team.

The Guru

Although he never had the urge to run the race before being approached by TUGG, Yesware founder and CEO Matt Bellows said he’d always thought of the Boston Marathon in the same light as “must-do” Boston experiences like going to Old Ironsides or watching a game at Fenway Park.

“I thought, this might be the only time in my entire life where I will have the chance to run the Boston Marathon,” Bellows said.

Bellows infuses a bit of Eastern philosophy into his role at the helm of e-mail tracking and analytics company Yesware, so it’s no surprise that he has done the same during his first foray into long distance running.

“In terms of mindfulness, it’s an incredible discipline and I never really appreciated running the way I am now,” Bellows said. “I must say that I’m loving the contemplative discipline of it, the posture, the coming back to the breath. And I don’t run with music so I love being aware of my environment.”

“In some ways, it reminds me of sitting meditation,” Bellows added. To help connect the rest of the team with the same positive vibes he was feeling, Bellows bought the other TUGG team members a book by his own meditation teacher called “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” which delves into the similarities between the two pursuits.

Through this year’s Marathon, Bellows, who is the most senior member of the TUGG running team, is raising money for Career Village, a website that helps students find the best path to the job their ideal job.

The Brains

Michael Schmidt isn’t just smart —he’s next-level intelligent.

Schmidt, and the technology that eventually became part of his company, Nutonian, were featured in an episode of “Through the Wormhole,” a Science Channel documentary that examines the connections between philosophy and science.

Schmidt’s company straddles the line between artificial intelligence and business intelligence. So, naturally, Schmidt will be running for Science for Scientists, a nonprofit focused on promoting more STEM programs in schools and beyond.

For someone who is best known for creating predictive analytics software, it seems that the long, intense training leading up to the race has been a bit humbling. “I’ve done some cycling,” Schmidt said, “but this is a different experience completely in that it requires a ton of body-hardening that I didn’t really fully appreciate.”

“I totally did not know what I was getting into when I signed up for this,” Schmidt said.

The Jock

As a former Brown football player, Brent Grinna doesn’t necessarily have the build of your average marathoner. However, the co-founder and chief executive of EverTrue will be running his first marathon for longtime TUGG partner BUILD, which encourages entrepreneurial education at schools.

Grinna’s company, a college and high school alumni connector used by school fundraising offices, takes up a lot of his time, as does his young family. He’s still managed to make time for intense workouts before, including Crossfit. But Grinna said the experience of putting 26.2 miles under his shoes will definitely be a new one.

“I avoided running more than 100 meters for a large part of my life,” he said.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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