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. Misconceptions Cleared-up (by Philip)

    With the fact that a person needs MORE, not less energy, if they plan on losing weight being well established, why diet soda?
    According to science, there is only one substance/process that can remove fat and other toxins from human cells: a chlorophyl-like substance the human bidy produces made from ingested live green vegetables interacting with ultraviolet light! After 20 min. of uv light exposure to the human eyeball, a switch gets clicked in our brain. We start making cleaner chemicals like crazy...even ones for cleanseing our own hearts! Special chemicals that use tear ducts to carry hardened heart away before it sits there like a clump of undigested red meat in your colon. Not crying is to your heart what not pooping is to your stomach. How backed-up are we really? (cont)...and, i have the cure for obesity coming up.:)

    April 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Masada

    I realize that all the knowledge in the world is inferior to anything the troll Philip has to say. Ignore all people and science, listen only to him, for he speaks the utmost, ultimate truth. Everyone else is insignificant. All hail Philip as the most superior person on earh. Then, when you are done laughing at this post, listen to an actual doctor, and not somebody off the CNN blogs.

    April 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Yes

    Then why does America STILL have an OBESITY problem?

    April 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • La Gordita

      Obama has tripled food stamps. I was behind a lady in 7-11 getting ding dongs with her SNAP card. Eliminate food stamps, see return to healthy body mass index.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Boogeyman

    @raven 10" of goodness or do you not remember? Oh so sweet it was LO

    April 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    Can anyone guess what I just did?

    April 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Boogeyman

    @raven thats a damm troll! What the hell i would not say something like that ok so whoever is trolling my is sick

    April 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Superman

    HELLO EVERYBODY,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,hows life on the blog front ? I see that much hasnt changed and @@@ RAVEN,,,,,,dont take that garbage from anybody, you hear hope life finds everyone good!

    April 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Boogeyman

    @raven thats the largest 4/10 you ever had

    April 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lucifer

    So chrissy, i see you have no friends, no wonder your not in here running that big mouth of yours. He he, to much time on the toilet? One down 6 more to go. Haaahaaahaaa!

    April 28, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Yael

    Is no one who they say they are? Bah!

    April 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bobcat (in drag)

    How dumb are you? Can't you read...? bobcat (in drag) is NOT bobcat (in a hat).
    Perhaps your chronic bad breath and vomit inducing body odor have clouded your thought process?

    April 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. raven

    oh, roadpooper, you flatter yourself.

    April 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bobcat (in a hat)©

    We've entered into another dimension. Not just a dimension of sight and sound, but of mind.
    There's a sign post up ahead. We've just crossed over into the troll-lite zone.

    April 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy ©

    Well, I see that I have missed nothing but the usual weekend crap from trolls and jackers.
    Have fun using my name, for not one person of intelligence actually believes that the posts made under our names is us.

    April 28, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. @Troll

    You've crossed several lines.

    April 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
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