Baltimore County

Towson native finds calling in running industry [Lutherville-Timonium]

Runners in the Charles Street 12 race from Lutherville, Cockeysville and Timonium gathered for a pre-run photo. Pictured are front row: Jim Archibald, Anastasia Hagerich; middle row  Melanie Voelker, Kieran Brune, Lauren Edwards, Josh Levinson, Melody Sinclair, Marianne Pizzo, Maeve Sheehey, Cesar Arze, Scott Masengill
and in the back row are Jonathan Sagner and  Phil Sheehey with runners who were not identified.

On Aug. 9, Timonium residents joined forces with hundreds of local runners for the Charles Street 12 run. The almost half marathon, now in its second year, is the brainchild of Josh Levinson, Towson native and owner of Charm City Run. The run begins at The Shops at Kenilworth and is a straight 12-mile run, ending at Power Plant Live, where runners celebrate with a party and live music. My friend, Mercy Rock, who has been training through the Timonium Charm City Run store for several was so enthusiastic about Josh that I had to call him for an interview.

Josh opened the first of his five Charm City Run stores in Timonium in 2001, with encouragement from his wife, Kara, a Howard County native. Prior, the couple was living in Austin, Texas, where Josh received his MBA from the University of Texas. Josh explained that running has always been a huge part of his life and he was "happiest when running." As captain of his lacrosse and football team at Washington and Lee University, Josh was always training but didn't run his first marathon until he was 28.  As an economics major, Josh took a job in banking but was uninspired. He then spent two years teaching middle school math at his alma mater, Gilman School. Then he decided to follow his passion and work in the running industry.


In Austin, Kara and Josh spent a great deal of time running at Town Lake, a popular trail and a place to meet new people in a new town. They also became friendly with the owner of one of the first speciality running stores in the country, Paul Carozza, of Run-Tex. Once Josh decided he wanted to bring the same energy and expertise to Baltimore, he apprenticed at Run-Tex and learned the ropes from Mr. Carozza, whom he describes as one of the forefathers of the running industry. Josh and Kara immersed themselves in Austin's running culture and eventually moved back home after the birth of their son, Ben.

Thirteen years later, Charm City Run now has five locations including Annapolis, Locust Point, Bel Air, Clarksville and Timonium. The Timonium location has nearly doubled in size over the past five years. Josh was one of the first in this area to offer specialized shoe fittings with gait analysis and treadmill observation; customers are encouraged to try running on the treadmill while a trained salesperson analyzes whether the shoe fits correctly.


In addition to Josh's passion for running, his enthusiasm for the local community is apparent. Charm City Run continues to donate 1 percent of all its revenue to local environmental causes totalling more than $250,000 to date. In addition, the Marathon Kids program for lower-income schools helps children accomplish their fitness goals by rewarding students who log 26 miles by the end of the school year. As you might imagine, Josh is a huge proponent of supporting local business so they can continue to give back to their communities. "Small businesses add to the character of their communities and give back to their communities at a much higher rate than their national counterparts. We are fortunate that Baltimoreans and Marylanders recognize this and love shopping local."

If you missed the Charles Street 12 this year, be sure to sign up for the annual Run to Remember 5k  on Sunday, Sept. 14. This race commemorates the victims of 9/11 and begins at the Baltimore World Trade Center and finishes in Federal Hill Park. All proceeds support area police and firefighters' foundations. Families are welcome. Visit to sign up.

Also, stop by Charm City Run on York Road and meet one of the trainers for a group run. The Timonium group trains on the NCR trail, Loch Raven Reservoir and throughout neighborhoods near the York Road store.