In the year 2020, two main evolutions and developments to both recreational and competitive running occurred. Covid-19 put a wrench in traditional 10,000+ person marathons leading race directors and individuals to develop safe and innovative ways to race. Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement was the other development that shook the running community (and the world) to its core.
Although BLM is not a new movement that started in 2020, it permeated its way into the global running community this past year. The murder of Amhaud Arbery- a 25-year-old Black man who was shot while running following a slew of racial slurs were yelled at him. This brought up conversations about who is seen as a “legitimate” “safe” and respectable runner. Black runners across the world rallied together to create the campaign of #IRunWithMaud to increase the visibility of Black runners and raise funds for the family to put towards funeral expenses.
Black runners and allies across the world ran 2.23 miles- as 02/23/2020 was the day of Amhaud’s death. #RunWithMaud reached the stage of elite running events such as the 2020 Boston Marathon (which was made a virtual event due to Covid-19) as Amhaud Arbery was named to the Honorary Boston Marathon team- which is a team of 26 members who exemplify “the true spirit of the Boston Marathon”.
Many individuals have continued creating campaigns and initiatives to increase visibility and participation of Black/BIPOC people in recreational running and more conversations have taken place across many platforms including Canadian Running Magazine’s podcast The Shakeout, The Longest Stride Podcast, and through initiatives such as Black Trail Runners and Miles for Justice- which a virtual running/walk event that raises funds for pro bono legal services in the Bay area Florida, which provide legal services to many lower-income Black/BIPOC individuals.
For many of us, running can often feel like an escape- an opportunity to get out in nature, run away from our problems, and feel alive. But for many, running is not an escape from racism or harassment, as unfortunately, these occurrences find their way into this sport. We all have a role to play in making the sport more safe and inclusive. Ways to do this include ensuring the run groups we lead have racially diverse leaders, continuing to engage in or create new campaigns promoting representation in running or using the charity components of races to contribute to organizations that contribute to racial equality.
For Black and BIPOC runners, take up space. Although running has be remarketed as a suburban white activity, running is something our people have always done. Running has and always will be a source of community and friendly competition for us. As a Black runner for Saucony Canada, part of my mission is to help create visible representation in this sport. Before my runs I post a video of me lacing my shoes – which has now been named #LaceUpWithLiv as a rally to encourage all people to get out and run.