Like many others, I also participated in the commemorative virtual run, but for days, I also pondered what more I could do to truly make an impact. For the most part, here in Houston, the running scene is pretty diverse. There are the more insidious ways in which this occurs, like two older white women making passive-aggressive remarks to a Pakistani-American Muslim runner in the bathroom line, and then there are the seemingly innocuous things that add up such as the lack of representation in media and local running leadership.
When I ran the Boston Marathon, I stood nervously in the portapotty line as the race organizers counted down the time until my corral would close. On May 5, a video of the shooting was released, prompting the story to receive widespread media coverage, and on May 9, runners across the U.
I found myself truly at a loss for words, even as a writer and as a minority myself.
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Speak up and speak out about these issues. I do sometimes wonder if people are not as engaging with me because I don't look like a runner in their eyes. I was stunned by her loaded comment. What does it mean to earn my spot at a race, on a team, or on a panel? I want to promote good body image for women and I want to help the Latino community. Someone had called in a complaint about a person walking in a blue shirt and drinking a beer, and I happened to be wearing a shirt that matched that description.
Once I began to search through basic hashtags for Asian, black and Latino runners, I confirmed that there really are many of us minority runners—a lot more than are being shown in the limelight. But the fact is, people from different backgrounds often have different bodies.
One of the things that we have to realize is that we, as people, have the ability to make a change. For the remainder of my time in Austin, I thought about that incident every time I ran along the path and crossed that intersection. It also made me grow quickly because I was exposed to so many different people. During your group runs, make it an intentional priority to run with someone else new today. They were pointing and very obviously talking about and making fun of us.
Once I finished school, I started doing races and tapping into the social media scene. This even extended to the elite field and those who made the Olympic team, with Aliphine Tuliamuk and Sally Kipyego not receiving nearly as much press as Molly Seidel.
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Chicago has a very diverse running scene, but I often feel that Pasadena groups are segregated. I continue to run even after being followed, and I continue to go to races in the Austin area even in predominantly white spaces because I feel that my just being alive is a political act. They acted disgusted and one scolded me. I would love for the running community to white understand what inclusivity means, and to become more diversified.
One the one hand, I was pleased that the narrative took center stage and was being spread because people need to understand that these types of injustices are still happening today. Why is my local running team's social media so When you are a BIPOC runner at a race, it can feel like you are largely invisible in a sea of white men, yet also conspicuously representing your whole community at the same time.
How did you not let people make you feel bad? I think one thing minorities would like to see is less talk and more action. When I saw that footage, it was just heart-wrenching to see him approached by two men with guns who were not police. If running is truly inclusive, then why doesn't local running leadership mirror the city I live in? Ultimately, running is an escape that benefits both my mental and physical health. If we talk about it from various perspectives, chances are men both sides will be willing to listen and grow.
Do your workout with someone women and different. To see how he ultimately died was extremely heart-wrenching. Native quickly started to see how underrepresented Asian Americans and other minorities were in the running community. I grew up in a dating running family, as my dad Ric Rojas, who won the first Bolder Boulder 10K in is Mexican-American, and my mom is white.
BIPOC are questioned and profiled while simply living their lives every day in this country, with too many incidents tragically ending in their deaths. Minutes later, when my blonde friend came running across, following the same exact route that I did, he just smiled and greeted her warmly, and we continued on. Social media is good for putting a spotlight on these injustices.
I think when people picture a runner, they often picture a skinny white woman.
I had started to notice a pattern in stories featured in the media, prominent Instagram platforms and, more recently, podcasts —the runners who were highlighted often fit the same mold of usually being thin, affluent white women, many of whom had found running after having kids and wanted to lose the baby weight. The officer ran my ID and left without saying anything.
Sometimes we take for granted the power that we have as individuals. Do white runners see us? For us to be able to continue to share that space, no matter what we look like, there needs to be a more conscious effort to diversify the scene. How did you make yourself feel worthy of being there?
At the Trials in Atlanta, there was only one African-American woman and about 25 Latinas in the sub-elite field, which is a very small percentage of the more than women who made up the field. I used to think that if I ran faster and if I qualified for Boston, it would prove that I belonged. One of the most memorable comments that I received from someone after the race was "You looked really good in that front pack because you were different—you weren't white and you weren't skinny.
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However, it was disappointing to see that of the 10 to 12 runners who had been running together for years, only six of us found it so offensive that we decided not to support the organization. At the beginning of this year, I participated in the athlete development program with the Houston Marathon, where I ultimately qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. Hadn't I earned my spot just like them? It can be hard to show up and to take up space.
BIPOC runners are often erased from the running narrative until we're asked to speak about race. The implicit bias of these two men caused them to confront Arbery with guns out. The hard work and the responsibility of addressing it is on all of us, from white runners making a conscious effort to commit to social justice, to runners of color not faulting them for making mistakes when they do speak up. Running a marathon is on my bucket list. My mother was murdered when I wasso I also cried for his family in sharing that connection.
I think the moment that we have now is an opportunity to have more people, especially our white allies and co-conspirators, as I like to call them, be more active in questioning how to make our country more equitable. As a Latina runner, would people be looking at me differently if I had another 30 pounds on me?
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Using your voice as a platform is very important. This is a huge problem but each one of us, if we do our part, can do something to diminish this problem. However, I can see how people could feel underrepresented in running circles and communities. They continued their conversation about how many Boston Marathons they had run and noted that the race had changed so much.
I was one of more than 50 women running with the pace group that was aiming for the Trials qualifying time at Houston, and ultimately one of only two Latinas who qualified.
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These are two of the most diverse cities in the U. Years ago, I got pulled over by a cop while walking to catch a train home from work in a northern suburb of Chicago that is largely white. I have hope that apparel companies, running publications and race organizations will invest in the growth of minority runners.
This helped me learn the importance of being open to everyone, as there were very few people who looked like me and who I connected with right off the bat.
I also sometimes wonder if I am more accepted because I look a certain way, since thin bodies are more commonly accepted and celebrated compared to larger bodies. Why are the same voices repeatedly amplified in running media? People need to be willing to have open and uncomfortable conversations on the topic of racism and discrimination, even within the running community.
I did slow down during my run to take note of the car and plate for my own safety, in case something did arise. Once I decided to get more serious in my training and pursue a Boston qualifying time, I decided to a club that had a reputation for catering toward more advanced runners pursuing more aggressive goals like this, with an experienced competitive coach to boot.
By all s, he was jogging in his neighborhood— something I do frequently. I think those with visible social media platforms need to be aware of their privilege and make a better effort to put more runners of color out there. I wanted to affirm to those in the minority that they belonged and that their experiences and stories are worthy of being shared, too.
I live in a predominantly white neighborhood outside of Austin, Texas. On February 23, year-old Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by two white men while out on a run through neighborhood streets in Satilla Shores, Georgia. The best thing for us to do is to continue to have tough conversations about race with empathy, patience, and mutual respect.
It was great to see people posting their runs to honor Ahmaud Arberybut that should be the minimum response.
When I was growing up, my dad would tell me stories about dealing with racism and racial profiling while running collegiately at Harvard University in the early s, which he likely would have dealt with at any U. Although I had Olympic dreams just like everyone else who was in that lead pack, this race was one of the first times I felt like I truly belonged at the front, that I can compete with these women at the top. The reality is that the finish line is always moving for those who are not the gatekeepers.
Track and field was a part of my life in high school, and as time went on, especially in college and in law school, running became a great way for me to stay in shape. It's not just a matter of if we see ourselves in running. When I was in my early 20s and living in Austin, Texas, I was once running with a group of friends on the path surrounding Town Lake.
I come back to this question more than I would like to admit. As the organizers announced five minutes until the corral closure, I nervously asked the two women in front of me if I'd be able to go ahead of them after I noticed they were two waves behind me. There are various loops and trails around the lake, and on this run, I happened to cross at an intersection first because I was running slightly ahead of my friends. I started the Diverse We Run Instagram in December to amplify the diverse voices in the running community, in hopes of broadening the worldview of those already in the majority.
It ended with him following me all the way back to my house, and only when I stopped there did he pass me. Running is overwhelmingly white, from the leadership of organizations and teams to the covers and features in running magazines, and the elevation of select voices. How did you overcome everything? On one occasion where I was running with my training partner, and we took proper social distancing measures, we observed two people in a parked car across the street.