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Posted under: Health Life Style

Harlem Run, a diverse movement empowering urban communities to get fit, shares stories from the pavement

We out here!

Photo: Harlem Run

A few weeks ago, more than 50,000 people completed the New York City Marathon — a record-breaking number, making it the largest marathon ever held. Despite the fact that less than 1% of the world’s population runs marathons, there has been a recent surge in marathon participation, most notably, among black runners. Noting that “black runners are changing the face of the sport,” the Wall Street Journal recently highlighted that, nationwide, the share of frequent runners who identified as African-American has surged to 8% from 1.6% in 2011, according to a survey by Running USA, an industry-backed group that tracks trends.

When we started the movement known as Harlem Run, we had no idea what to expect. Over the years, we have come to understand that we are shifting the culture of not only our neighborhood, Harlem, but also the world. Runners World magazine has referred to us as ushering in the new “Harlem Runaissance,” and our presence has certainly made big waves; over the past few years, more than a handful of run groups/fitness programs have made Harlem their home thanks to the cultural shift we created.

We are happy to be so-called pioneers, changing the game, and present four stories from our very own game-changing marathoners:


"I run because my heart tells me to. I never would have thought years before that running would be such a huge part of who I am. My lifestyle wasn't always healthy. I started on a treadmill, not so serious, just trying it out because it was there. It made me feel good to run for at least an hour and to keep increasing my pace. The amazing part of this entire journey is that my 14-year-old son, Aubrey, my only child as a single mom, started running about a year ago, and it turns out that he is an amazing runner. He runs just about every race I do (fast as hell) and is also a member of two of my running teams. He recently started as a freshman at Cardinal Hayes Catholic High School and runs on their cross country team. We were able to share this amazing experience together as a family which was priceless!"

Photo: Harlem Run


"I started running after having a weight loss surgery and wanting to play a role in my own journey of weight loss and health. Funny thing is, I never wanted to run a marathon. Living on 124th and Lenox over the past 10 years, aka a block away from mile 22 of the New York City marathon course, I would always see the participants but never even go close enough to cheer. I can remember seeing people running outside and in my head being like 'black people don't do that,' which is clearly a myth! The great thing is that I am part of debunking that myth. I’m honored to be a part of the movement that is changing those ideas. In 2015, when I went to the Harlem Run cheer station, I really watched and experienced the marathon for the first time and, when I left that day, I said "I want to run a marathon.” I signed up for the lottery and, lucky me, I was chosen."

Photo: Harlem Run


"I've always been a person involved with sports and fitness. In fact, I remember times I used to get in trouble for not making it home on time in order to stay out later to play another round of soccer. However, it wasn’t until my co-worker invited me to a special event hosted by Harlem Run called the 'Harlem World Takeover' that things began to change. This group, Harlem Run, from the very beginning became a contagious entity which I needed more of. Running weekly with Harlem Run, being inspired by the captains, listening to other peoples’ stories, made me realize why running is so contagious. When I completed the 2016 NYC Marathon in the time of 4 hours 28 minutes, I was repping the best crew in all the world, HARLEM RUN. And I wouldn’t have it any other way."

Photo: Harlem Run


"I started running long distance in 2005, after putting on some weight after college because doing cardio and weights in the gym wasn't getting the weight off fast enough. A co-worker of mine at the time asked if I would sign up for a 5K race with her. I said yes, and then thought to myself, 'how hard can a 5K be?' Boy, did I get a rude awakening! I was so out of breath and had to stop several times to walk. I was so disappointed and embarrassed because I had played sports most of my life. Since I was so disappointed and I can't accept failure, I decided that I would train for a marathon to prove to myself that I could run long distance without stopping and being out of breath. I quickly joined New York Road Runners, did all the qualifying races and ran my first marathon, the NYC marathon, in 2007. Since my first race in 2005, I have completed 112 races, 19 ultra marathons, 10 marathons and 27 half marathons. Most people think I am crazy, including my own family, when I tell my running history, but I've never felt so accomplished in my life. Running has changed me forever. I've always wanted to do things people think are impossible and I’m proud to be breaking down barriers for those in my community."

Photo: Harlem Run

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