April 28th, 2012
09:53 AM ET

Running group turns into nationwide movement

African-American women are joining forces to battle the alarming rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity that are affecting millions of Americans.

The movement is called Black Girls Run!, and it was formed to encourage women of color to get fit and live healthier lifestyles.

Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks are the creators of Black Girls Run! They wanted to drop some pounds and get in shape, but they soon saw their personal goals turning into a nationwide movement.

"I had no idea that Black Girls Run! was going to grow to be this size," Hicks said. "Toni and I feel really blessed and excited that we are able to help so many people."

Growing in size may be an understatement. Thanks to social media and word of mouth, Black Girls Run! now has 60 groups across the country.

The group's Facebook page and Twitter updates allow over 25,000 members to share their 'runavations' while inspiring others to overcome whatever obstacles they may have in order to exercise.

Before joining Black Girls Run!, Shahidah Hamlett of Washington lost 30 pounds using a combination of boot camp-style training, boxing and running. After seeing how women were keeping tabs on their mileage by posting their goals on BGR's Facebook page, she decided to jump in and join them.

"It encouraged me to attend standing runs and increase my mileage per week," said Hamlett. "I decided if I am doing this amount of miles I might as well train for a half marathon." In March, Hamlett saw her efforts pay off when she successfully completed the DC Rock n' Roll' Half Marathon.

The leaders of each chapter of BGR work diligently to register members for nearby races, hand out information about training plans, and offer guidance on where to find the best running gear.

BGR's ambassadors run the gamut. Everyone from seasoned ultra marathoners to people who are lacing up running shoes for the first time. The ambassadors exude enthusiasm for the ladies and their running journeys.

Meg Guilford, the BGR D.C. ambassador, is a former javelin thrower for Penn State's track and field team. Athletics has always been a huge part of her life, but Guilford's active lifestyle came to a halt two years ago when she experienced a massive multiple sclerosis attack that left her in a wheelchair for three months.

After spending the summer in a rehabilitation hospital, Guilford gradually went from the use of a wheelchair to a walker and then to a cane. Guilford says she is optimistic about her recovery. "I'm better than I was, but I think with the help of Black Girls Run! I can be better than I am," she said.

Ebony Adams was another newbie to Black Girls Run! The mother of two admits she didn't have much of a fitness routine. "Living in Washington, D.C., I would drive around and see people outside running," she said, "I would say 'that's not me, I can't do it.' In fact, I thought I was allergic to running."

A year later, Adams is a bona fide runner and can easily crank out 5 kilometers. "Running makes me feel empowered," Adams said.

Juanne Harris, a native New Yorker and active runner, says, "it's life-changing to see what it does for the women in the group. When someone comes to you and says, I can't believe I'm running, I'm asthmatic, or I lost 20 pounds and I've met my goal weight, it's inspiring."

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soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. raven

    Psst, hey troll, the words are "subue" and"verbally". Also, "verbally" means "aloud". Kinda hard to carry out your "Pinky and the Brain " type plan in text. Maybe rethink it and get back to me.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    subdue, rather.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    And hello, m.s., bobcat and dazzle!

    April 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Hello to you raven, dazzle and anyone else who gives a hoot.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    An attorney was having an affair with his secretary. Shortly afterward, she told him she was pregnant. Not wanting his wife to know, he gave the secretary a sum of money and asked her to go to Italy and have the baby there.

    'But how will I let you know the baby is born?' she asked.

    He replied, 'Just send me a postcard and write 'spaghetti' on the back. I'll take care of the child's expenses.'

    Not knowing what else to do, the secretary took the money and flew to Italy. Six months went by and then one day the attorney's wife called him at the office and explained, 'Dear, you received a very strange postcard in the mail today from Europe, and I don't understand what it means.'

    The attorney said, 'Just wait until I get home and I will explain it to you.'

    Later that evening the attorney came home, read the postcard, fell to the floor with a heart attack. Paramedics rushed him to the ER. The lead medic stayed back to comfort the wife. He asked what trauma had precipitated the cardiac arrest so the wife picked up the card and read: 'Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti – Two with meatballs, two without.'

    April 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. raven

    Hmmm, again?? Brushed? Check. Deodorant? check.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat) ©

      Sorry about the slow responses. I'm headed out to another training session. Got some more newbies to break in. Talk to you later.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    Lol, bobcat!!

    April 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Observant

    Hello, raven, I'm here.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Thank you dazzle. And give Tori the best bithday wishes ever from me.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. C. Eastwood (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Black Girls Run! Good idea! Black Girls Run!.....for President.....in 2016! Better idea.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Old Farmer w/no TV

    I've seen this a hundred and fitty times. Cow stampede. Just hunker down for awhile. They only run so far before they start thinking about food and come back home. Plus it huts their teets to run for too long.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observant

      You see this as a bad thing? That these girls are being proactive? This is funny? SMH......

      April 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Old Farmer w/no TV

    Oprah Winfrey for Prez? Well, ok. But let's see whats left of her after the stampede. Check her heart-rate, and if it's something a pacemaker/defibulator can still fix, she can be Mayor of Compton, CA. If not/heart transplant, we'll have to see how her new heart moves her weight around before voting.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Observant

    Ridiculous, inflammatory, specious post. It would seem the "This Just In" blog is full of it today.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Masada

    Roadsniper. It is not Chrissy. It is you. You fool nobody.

    April 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Roadsniper

    Chrissy come out to play or any mortal enemies care to join me

    April 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
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