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Black Girls RUN!: The Fight Against Obesity Is Getting Its Legs

Editor's note: REI is kicking off a national partnership with Black Girls RUN!, a group that is inspiring women to put on their sneakers and run for a healthier lifestyle. Here, BGR cofounder Toni Carey explains how and why this group got started:

Toni Carey (l) and Ashley Hicks (r)Three years ago this month, Ashley Hicks and I created a blog called "Black Girls RUN!" It was our way to share our running experiences with friends and other runners, bring to light the startling statistics surrounding black women's health and, ultimately, tackle the obesity epidemic.

We must admit, we also ranted on occasion about the stereotype that black women don't run and what we felt was the underrepresentation of African Americans in long-distance sports.  

Today, Black Girls RUN! has grown into a movement with more than 25,000 members in 60 running groups across the United States. Our name and our groups have helped to ignite the conversation around women's health, specifically in the African American community. We have encouraged women from all walks of life to make their health a priority.

But, why the BGR name? Just take a look at these statistics from The Office for Minority Health.
•    51% of black women ages 20-74 are considered obese compared to 33% of white women.
•    78% of black women are considered overweight compared to 59% of white women.

It's obvious that African American women need us. Not to mention, obesity is like a gateway drug in that it leads to other chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and the list goes on and on. Of course, it's not just a "black" problem. Obesity doesn't care what color you are.

As Black Girls RUN! continues to grow momentum, we focus on providing information and resources via our website to novice runners to help them on their fitness journeys. We ease the fear they often have about being first-time runners and teach them the basics of running and living a healthy lifestyle. For advanced runners, we provide insight into ways to take their running game to another level.  For both, we provide a support system of undying encouragement, inspiration and love. From blog posts to localized events, we are helping women understand what it truly means to be healthy—physically, mentally and spiritually.

Black Girls RUN! group
In these 3 short years, we've been able to impact women in ways we could have never imagined. On any given day during the week, thousands of women don our signature pink and black and hit the streets of their cities. Women black and white are joining the movement and taking our pledge to "Preserve the Sexy."

For us, it's surreal. We receive stories almost daily from members who credit Black Girls RUN! for their newfound passion for their health and their surprising love of running (those are our favorites). Others explain how Black Girls RUN! and running helped them through a divorce or illness and served as their motivation to persevere despite the obstacles before them.

We are constantly inspired by our members and others in the running community who have taken on the challenge of eradicating obesity in our nation. For us, it's more than just hitting the pavement to get in a good workout. For us, it's running for our lives.

Editor's note: You can celebrate BGR's third anniversary by joining a local BGR running group. Also, be on the lookout for the first BGR race/conference this September in Atlanta. REI will be there supporting the team.

About the cofounders: Toni Carey, a native of Nashville, Tenn., discovered her love for running  (and vegetarianism) in 2008. Ashley Hicks hails from Evans, Ga. As a former soccer player, Ashley began running to maintain an active lifestyle and to achieve, what seemed impossible, the New York City Marathon (which she did in 2009). The two have been recognized locally and nationally for their work to combat obesity in the African-American community. They were recently profiled by Runner's World magazine, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and appeared on The Michael Baisden Show. They were also named to Ebony Magazine's Power 100 list, The Grio's Class of 2012 list and nominated as "Best Blogger" by Shape Magazine. For more information about Black Girls RUN! or its founders, visit www.BlackGirlsRUN.com or follow the @blackgirlsrun Twitter feed.

Posted on at 2:48 PM

Tagged: African Americans, Black Girls RUN, Running and fitness

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Weburn

God would I like to see a group called "White Girls RUN!" ... Reverand Al would be all over it...

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Scrump

I don't understand your comment. What would be the point? There is no stigma in the white community in reference to running, so why would a special group named White Girls RUN! be needed.

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TammieN

This is great positive people bring positive actions.

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Happy Skywalker

Just emailed my local organizer to getting running with the ladies!

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