Swaggahouse Run Club
Philadelphia has a new take on The Odd Couple, only the duo in this version will have you lacing up to run the Ben Franklin bridge, the Wissahickon, and through Philly’s neighborhoods; you’ll leave sweaty, laughing, and ready for more. Meet Swaggahouse Run Club (SHRC) founded in July 2020 by Josh Perez, 49, an inspector for the Philadelphia sheriff’s department, and his friend Ron Pichardo, 40, a Bronx-born, quick-witted jokester and gifted tattoo artist. Swaggahouse Run Club is a strong supporter of Legacy of Hope, and as an official training partner of the Philadelphia Love Run, is working with them to raise $250,000 to provide emergency support for Philadelphia cancer patients. See how you can support and/or join Josh and Ron at www.PhillyRunsFree.com. Ironically, neither of the two was a distance runner prior to the meeting. Perez did the occasional Spartan and Tough Mudder race, and Pichardo says he was a “casual runner” back then. Now half and full marathons are routine endeavors for them. As disparate as their occupations and personalities maybe, their chemistry is undeniable, effective, and entertaining.
The club’s name comes from Pichardo’s wildly successful tattoo studio in Elkins Park. Perez states “Ron is Swaggahouse, I’m Run Club…” but the story goes deeper than that. At its core, SHRC’s genesis stemmed from Perez’s desire to honor his friend, Dante Austin, who died by suicide in June 2019. Perez committed to “spread the word about running’s therapeutic, mental health and physical benefits.”
A few months before Austin's death, one of Perez’s friends, Javier Rodriguez (not a runner BTW), told him about a Legacy of Hope meeting he’d attended. He said he “felt compelled to run the 2019 Love Run Half Marathon after hearing some of the patient stories…I don’t feel like I have the right to complain about running a half marathon as a non-runner when I think about what those patients battle on a daily basis…so I’m reaching out to you.” Perez decided that he would do the Love Run “stride for stride” with Rodriguez. At the same time, and for months prior, Perez recalls how “Dante had been trying to convince me to run the Philly Marathon with him. And I resisted his pestering until I got drunk on finish line endorphins from the 2019 Love Run, and I called him touting 26.2 ain’t sh*t….let’s do this! `Next thing I knew, Dante had us registered for the marathon!” Then came his suicide. “It was devastating,” Perez says.
Pichardo recalls how “Dante’s death created a noticeable shift in Josh’s whole aura.” But it also cemented his commitment to keep his promise and complete the marathon. “Dante was like family” Perez declares; “When I told Ron—who was down to run for a good cause—about his suicide, he agreed to run the marathon with me;” the two of them started training that June. “At the beginning, Ron couldn’t even run a mile. But five months later he finished that 26.2!” exclaims Perez proudly.
Those months of training laid the foundation for SHRC. “We bonded through the hard