‘Black Girls RUN!’ Conquers the 2011 Peachtree Road Race

Black Girls RUN! is more than a running group. It is a support group focusing on distance running as a way to combat the growing obesity epidemic in the African American community. Founded in 2009 by Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks, the group’s mission quickly spread across the country and boasts local chapters in 21 states. More than 10 members of the Atlanta chapter recently ran in the annual Peachtree Road Race, the largest 10K in the world. Black girls run? Yes, they do, and here are some testimonials as to why: –a. robinson

Franchesca Lane-Warren

I run to be healthy and to challenge myself mentally and physically. In the last three years, I had two children 15 months apart. Soon after, I realized I was really out of shape when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror one morning before taking my children to school. Shortly after, I signed up for a 5k and, when I finished it, I felt empowered, and that was all it took for me to be hooked. I started small by walking around my neighborhood and, now, I have built my endurance so that I can actually run. I may not be the fastest runner, but I keep running because it challenges me mentally and physically. When I want to give up or stop, there is a voice in my head that encourages me to continue to push my body. Running challenges me mentally because it makes me conquer my road blocks that I have about the work it takes to become and remain fit.

Shayla Barnes

I have never played a sport, never was really into physical activity growing up. However, as my 30th birthday approached, I began to make my “before 30 bucket list.” I’ve always admired runners. They seemed so focused, dedicated and are pretty healthy. I wanted that and to lose some weight. But more importantly, I wanted to show my girls how important it is to take care of YOU and to exercise. I started this long road January 31, 2011, weighing 202 pounds. I ate healthier, exercised and looked for a new form of stress relief. Yoga played a big part in my stress relief for the past few years, but I needed something a bit more up-tempo. Motivated by friends and my hubby, I tried running. I eventually bought a treadmill, which really helped. Since beginning my running adventure I’ve run two 5Ks and lost more than 25 pounds! Running means a lot to me! It means I’ll be a healthier, stronger, lighter me! It means my girls will have mommy to look up to and say, “If she can do that, I can do this!” Running makes me a better me!

Darlene Baltimore

I run for many reasons, but to sum it up: total wellness — mind, body and spirit. It’s a great stress reliever that keeps me physically fit to preserve the sexy, and I’m able to meditate on God’s word and His plan for my life. It’s my own space, my own time, when I am just out there letting my thoughts flow from Him. It’s one of my favorite daily routines. It is my obsession that is a mystery to my family and friends. Running has taught me to endure and push myself to reach new personal and professional goals.

I remember the first time I ran the Peachtree Road Race and the infamous Cardiac Hill. By the time I had reached the top of the hill, my legs felt like they had stopped working, and I could not catch my breath. I was exhausted. Now, after running the course for five years, what used to be a struggle is now a routine, and I have realized that this lesson in endurance has become the core to many aspects of my life. My greatest motivation and favorite part of running a race is to see the 70-plus-year-old men and women breeze pass me, happy and healthy, all the way to the finish line. With a warm smile and an encouraging word, they have inspired me. I, too, want to grow old and be like them one day.



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