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. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached
    a comfortable cruising alt itude, the captain made an announcement
    over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain
    speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from New York to Los
    Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and
    uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax – OH, MY G-D!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen,
    I am so sorry if I scared you earlier; but, while I was talking, the flight attendant brought
    me a cup of coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!"
    A passenger in Coach said, "That's nothing. He should see the back of mine!"

    April 28, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat) ©

      @ dazzle©
      Good Morning. I see the trolls are getting a very early start today.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mary

    (((((((((((((( HUG ))))))))))))) You have NO idea how much I needed that joke at this very moment. thank you sincerly. 🙂

    April 28, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Mr. Marlow was strolling through the country when he saw a stable with the most beautiful horse he ever laid eyes on. It was seventeen hands high and white, with rippling muscles and a fine, flowing mane. Mr. Marlow struck a deal to buy it from the owner who did, however, pass on one key piece of information.
    "We are a religious family, Mr.Marlow, and we've instilled those values in our horse. To get him to gallop you must say 'Thanks God' to get him to stop you must say 'Our Father Who Art in Heaven,"
    Settling into the saddle, Marlow said " Thanks God," and the animal took off. They rode for miles; suddenly they were coming up to a cliff. Unfortunately, Marlow couldn't remember the phrase to make the animal stop and tried every Biblical passage he could think of until, just a few feet from the edge of the cliff, he shouted, " Our Father Who Art in Heaven! The animal stopped instantly. Shaking and perspiring, Marlow reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. "Thanks God," he said as he mopped his brow...

    April 28, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. noworries

    Was the police behind her? Oh my did I really say that out loud?

    April 28, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mr boogeyman

    @raven you cant hide here now its time to start subdoing you verbaly so hide if you can

    April 28, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. WIZARD

    Hey runners, run to the WHITE house and take nobama on its run to being evicted from the WHITE house! Lets see how long its knuckles will hold up! LMAO

    April 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RUFFNUTT ( beer drinking , turkey hunting , trailer trash from belton missouri )

    i'm surprised the police aren't harrasing these women...
    .
    most police figure the only reason a black person can run is to get away from the crime sceene...

    April 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    A man visits his psychiatrist and talks about being haunted by visions of his departed relatives. He says; these ghosts are perched on the tops of fence posts around my garden every night. They sit there and watch me and watch me. What can I do?
    The psychiatrist says; that's easy … just sharpen the tops of the posts.

    April 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jj

      love your jokes!! But a hundred and fifty million people in this country are on some form of govt assistance! Thats what u should be talking about. I'm sure the founding fathers did not have this vision of America in mind. Jees people look at where this once great self reliant nation is heading!

      April 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    Your joke are lame.
    Loser.

    April 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    You obviously were never tutored in the proper use of speech. It should be "Your joke IS lame. Or "your jokeS are lame.
    Loser.

    April 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roadsniper

    Im back back back back back back come and get it you people haters its game time come out to play

    April 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Roadsniper

    Gender confusion lets see here are you confused as to wether you are a female or a male stuck in a body you do not except or is it that you are trying to adopt someone elses personality which is impossible to do so on a decision basis unless you are split personality and then its not by choice its just there so lets cut the crap that you are full of and get to the thick of things and get it on

    April 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JHM

    I'm a member of BGR! It's a great movement and extremely special to me. I find it admirable that women within a community that is largely obese are making an effort to move beyond stereotypes and become (more) fit. The jokes and unrelated comments are unnecessary, largely mean spirited, and rude.

    April 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    @ Observan

    I completely agree with all of your observations. ESPECIALLY # 6.

    April 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Observant

    Miss dazzle©:
    Mea culpa. I was laughing too hard at that ludicrous post to give it any merit that people would actually *believe* it was you.

    8) The garlic day-o post was obviously. *so* NOT dazzle©.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
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