HART AND GOSPEL SOUL OF EARNED RUNS Some would say what’s old is now new. African Americans are swelling the ranks of amateur runners in short and longer distances races, according to an article by Rachel Bachman for The Wall Street Journal on wsj.com. She quoted figures from a RunningUSA.org survey, which tracks industry trends, that the percentage of frequent runners who identified themselves as African Americans has “surged” from 1.6% in 2011, to 8% more recently. Much of the increase is noticed in big cities, like New York she reports.
“African-Americans have long excelled at track and field from high school to the Olympics, and athletes of African descent dominate professional distance running. But black people have been rarer among amateur distance runners in the U.S. About 83% of frequent distance runners are white, according to Running USA” she relates.
Like other runners, these new converts to the sport are doing so to improve health, especially to lose weight, as well as for enjoyment. “African-Americans carry a greater risk of obesity, heart disease and stroke than the general population” the article says.
NOT mentioned in the WSJ article is the Chicago Gospel Run. This organization’s website exhorts their fellowship, “Moving forward together, we CAN begin to heal – one step at a time”, citing figures of a disproportionate and greatly increased risk of nearly every major disease in their ethnic group as reasons to come together and run.
“The Chicago Gospel Run unites gospel enthusiasts, runners, and walkers from across the Midwest and beyond in fellowship, fitness, and fun" its website states. The event is based in and for the community, in the city’s South Side. There’s a 5K chip-timed race for serious competitors, a 5K walk, and a half-mile Kids run. Gospel music is piped at the race start and finish, and along the course. Every participant receives an official T-shirt and refreshments. The 2016 event sold out; the first 2,000 finishers of the 5K run received medals.
There is evidence that African Americans and their churches are getting serious attention from the running establishment. A September 2016 announcement by USA Track & Field stated that a “new partnership with the National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA) to support health and wellness programs across the country” had been forged. “The one-year commitment provides grants to assist the NBMA in developing a training program targeting African-American faith-based communities, as well as contributing directly to NBMA’s college scholarship program.”
The USATF is acknowledging that the Chicago Gospel Run is on the right 'track' when it comes to promoting running in this group. “The church is the perfect ‘accountability partner’ for individuals who want to improve their health,” affirms NBMA Co-Founder and Board Member Tony Reed in the announcement. “We’re looking forward to this relationship with USATF and together empowering underserved communities.”
Also highlighted in Ms. Bachman's article is the role comedian Kevin Hart has taken on to bring Twitter fans to the streets of his tour location stops for impromptu 5K runs. “Move with Hart” attracted hundreds to thousands of fans during Hart’s 2015-2016 international tour. Hart was featured in the December 2015 Runner’s World magazine’s “I’m A Runner” series, written by Dana Meltzer Zepeda. His remarks in the item reflect the mission of Earned Runs. “‘When I’m running, I’m not competing for a gold medal. The reward is telling myself, “I’m staying consistent. I’m staying true to something.’ If I continue to set goals and accomplish those goals, that means I’m doing something right. Who knows where that could take me?”
Kevin Hart has made it clear he doesn’t need an organized race to get it done; he creates his owns opportunities and invites others to do so with him, wherever work takes him. “I run in every city I visit. I do a 5K whether it’s a race or just the exercise” the performer enthuses. “When I’m traveling, I love to go find places while I’m running where I can see things. It’s about capturing moments—capturing that city while you get your healthy side on”.
Hart’s beliefs are the heart of Earned Runs!
Regardless of ethnicity, a sedentary life-style with periods of prolonged sitting is dangerously leveling the health playing field for many of us. All groups are welcome join the broader running community and that of Earned Runs!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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