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Two women in Washington, D.C. have joined forces for the creation of a digital platform designed to empower Black women long distance runners. The collective—dubbed RunGrl—was established to diversify the city’s running community, the Washingtonian reported.

Founders Ashlee Lawson and Jasmine Nesi founded RunGrl after noticing that platforms for Black women runners were almost non-existent, the news outlet writes. Both Lawson and Nesi wanted to cultivate a community of women of color who participated in distance running where they could share their resources and experiences both online and offline. “There wasn’t a space for black women distance runners,” Nesi told the Washingtonian. “For black women especially, when you think of running, you think of track. I think we fall off around the 800-meter mark.”

RunGrl has sparked conversations about everything from how exercise is essential for Black women to overcome health ailments that they are disproportionately affected by to how hair can often become a barrier for women when it comes to working out. The group recently unveiled a campaign called #MyRunningHair in efforts to evoke dialogue about hair types and running. They were inspired to start the initiative after learning that 40 percent of Black woman don’t exercise because they want to protect their hairstyles.

Lawson hopes that RunGrl will serve as a vehicle to change the face of the sport, encourage more Black women to become physically active and dismantle the perception that long distance running is a white man’s sport. “Running is our vehicle,” said Lawson. “How do we really change the narrative of running as a sport? It’s not just white men in split shorts.”

A similar initiative dubbed Black Men Run was created in efforts to encourage health and wellness among African-American men.


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