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Black girls running for health and diversity

Howie Evans | 12/23/2011, 10:30 a.m.
The newest running organization in town is Black Girls RUN (BGR), road running fresh off...
Black girls running for health and diversity

The newest running organization in town is Black Girls RUN (BGR), road running fresh off a 15K in Puerto Rico.

This past Saturday,a large contingent of BGR members ran in the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Ted Corbitt Classic 15K. "We ran in this race to honor Ted Corbitt, who in 1952 was the first Black man to run in an Olympic Marathon," said Juanne Harris, the founding president of the New York chapter of BGR.

Harris also noted, "Ted Corbitt was a pioneer in the field of long-distance running."

BGR was founded in 2009 by two women in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. Their mission is to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority.

BGR started as a blog online, and running groups were launched in the spring of 2011. Since then, the movement has expanded into a national advocacy and networking organization for Black women runners, with chapters in 40 cities, more than 7,000 Facebook "likes" and nearly 3,000 followers on Twitter. Thousands of Black women are taking up long-distance running.

The New York chapter lists over 700 members and is growing every day. Harris is one of the group's two New York Ambassadors, in charge of organizing the group, including outreach and planning events. She brought together the group of women to run the Ted Corbitt 15K "because I thought it was important that we honor Ted and what he stood for and to show what we are doing to promote diversity in long-distance running," she explained.

"We had over 55 women who ran in the Ted Corbitt," said a pleased Harris.

The organization is already attracting national attention, having been prominently featured in a cover article in the December 2011 issue of Runners World magazine. They have been mentioned in Essence and Shape magazines and stole the show at the Ted Corbitt race site in their eye-catching T-shirts, to the delight of amateur and professional photographers.

For more information, visit www.blackgirlsrun.com.