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. @aunt Banazi

    You so we todd id.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. dazzle ©

    Goodnight @Superman, time to get snuggled into my featherbed for a goodnight's sleep. I will send your good wishes to Tori. At 20 the world is her oyster. I think AOC is a troll, so don't waste an oz.of energy on him.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lordy Lo

    None of this makes any sense. Y'all aren't right.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Worlds most sophisticated man

    But when I do run, I prefer groups. Bring oxygen my friend. Live long and prosper. Kirk out. -chrptptchrpt-

    April 29, 2012 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Scotty

      That's world's most interesting man. You ain't it.

      April 29, 2012 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    Ok jim, mr art of conversation. You stated you didnt like philip, yet you did a very good impersonation of him. My question to you is what right do you have to belittle any of us? I dont see you pointing out how obnoxious/annoying he is to his face!

    April 29, 2012 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. raven

    @busted: If youre accusing me of something, just spit it out. @poeem: you too. Otherwise, leave me out of it.

    April 29, 2012 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    •A little boy decided he was going to read the Bible, so he opened his grandma’s huge, old leather-bound bible that had been passed down through the family for generations. As he turned the pages, a fragile, old pressed leaf fell out. He gently picked it up and ran to his grandma, “Grandma! Grandma! I found Adam’s underwear!”

    April 29, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Bill and Bob, two children, were sitting outside a clinic. Bill happened to be crying very loudly.

    "Why are you crying?" Bob asked.

    "I came here for a blood test," sobbed Bill.

    "So? Are you afraid?"

    "No. For the blood test, they cut my finger.

    As Bob heard this, he immediately began crying profusely.

    Astonished, Bill stopped his tears and asked Bob, "Why are you crying now?"

    To which Bob replied, "I came for a urine test!"

    April 29, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank ( R - OHIO ) "Яight Wing Иutcase"

    This is the current topic:
    Running group turns into nationwide movement

    April 29, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat) ©

      It's also been the current topic since early yesterday morning.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. chrissy

    lmao ty bobcat and jeff frank! Just what i needed today, a good laugh with this wonderful cup of coffee! While i ponder WHY there are so many hateful people in this world! An answer escapes me of course but at least i got a laugh!

    April 29, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat) ©

      @ chissy

      It could be that some of these indivduals feel so unloved in their own world, that feel the need to strike out and try to make others feel bad. Or it could be that they're just total freakin JERKS.

      April 29, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. chrissy

    lol but im also reminded of a recent conversation where *hag tag* was patented by the very same person mr art of conversation professes NOT to be! Sounds as if said person may just be a liar as well as a hater!

    April 29, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I would like to rake this opportunity once again to remind people that the word 'hag' is deriviative of the word 'haggard', and thus, can be applied equally to both genders.

      April 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    lol @ bobcat, certainly freaks of nature!

    April 29, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    @ my troll, it seems to be the ONLY thing you do everyday! And ty, i know you love me, since you seek me out so much. Lol.

    April 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mortals verses Philip

    From this day you will find *mortals* bending to your mind!

    April 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©


      April 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    All of his life Len from Cape Breton had heard stories of an amazing family tradition. It seems that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been able to walk on water on their 21st birthday. On that day, they'd walk across the lake to the boat club for their first legal drink.

    So when Len's 21st birthday came around, he and his pal Corky took a boat out to the middle of the lake. Len stepped out of the boat and nearly drowned!

    Corky just managed to pull him to safety. Furious and confused, Len went to see his grandmother. "Grandma, it's my 21st birthday, so why can't I walk across the lake, like my father, his father, and his father before him?"

    Granny looked Len straight in the eyes, and said, "Because, you idiot, your father, grandfather and great grandfather was born in January, you were born in July."

    April 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
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