This video by Code switch sparked a lot of conversations. We’ve highlighted before that members of the Enda Community in the US have vastly different running experiences based on the color of their skin, and this video got to the heart of why that is.
We wanted to weigh in from a different perspective and look not just at the problems, but what we can do. There are structural problems, but what individual contributions can we, the wider running community, make towards running as accessible as possible for everyone?
The Running Community
One of the greatest joys of running as a sport is belonging to a community. Being the social beings that we are, a sense of community makes running more than just a thing that we do, but who we are, and by extension, it makes us a community.
There is also lots of evidence that as runners we are at our best - physically and emotionally - not just when we have others pushing us but also when we are helping to lift up others as well. So If we want to be the best runner we can be, it means we should each make an effort to help other runners.
What can we do to make it easier for other runners?
1. Greet other runners
It can be a little wave or a hello, but acknowledging other runners is a simple way to let other runners feel seen and feel that we are all there for each other as runners. A ways of saying this is our space, and we know it. If you see a runner who seems to be in trouble - maybe they’re limping along a trail - ask if they’re okay and if you can help in any way. Be there for each other.
2. Share stories like this Code Switch piece
If you’ve never confronted barriers to running, it’s all the more important that you recognize the experience of others and ensure that other runners are seeing those stories as well.
3. Advocate for running space
In addition to asking your city for better paths and trails, ask that they make sure those best running areas are accessible to everyone in the city. Ask your local government to prioritize sidewalks in roadworks, so that we all have space to run.
4. Join an organization advocating for justice
The struggle for justice is not short, nor simple. Organizations like Amnesty International in Kenya and Color of Change in the US are in for the long-haul advocating time and again for change. Supporting them is a great way for runners to contribute to the process of change.
Not just with your local running club, but try to go further. Could your participation help a school in a low income neighborhood have a running program? Is there an organization like Back on My Feet, that uses running to do good, near you? This is a harder thing to do during the pandemic, but the time will come that it will get easier, and hopefully, you will be there for others to help build the running community.
We hope that you’ll keep taking action. Running is the world’s most accessible sport, let’s make sure everyone can share its joys.