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5ksandcabernets: Where are all the black joggers?

5ksandcabernets

Monday, July 27, 2009

Where are all the black joggers?

We are at a higher risk for high blood pressure, and we are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than our white counterparts, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In a report issued July 16, the CDC said we (blacks) are 50 percent more likely than whites and 20 percent more likely than hispanics to be obese.

And despite our health problems, when we become adults we don't engage in one of the easiest, cheapest activities that is known to support heart health and trim waistlines: R-U-N-N-I-N-G.

Go to your local running trail and tell me how many black faces you see.

We gotta do better than this.

And I'm not saying running/walking is the end-all be-all. Some of us are into other recreational sports, and that's cool. But many of us do nothing. And sooner or later we will pay for the inactivity with shorter life spans or ill health. Since I am a runner, I want to start encouraging more blacks to run.

And so beginning today, I'm going to try to shine a little light on this issue. At the end of each post, I will note the number of black people I saw running.

When I ran Monday morning, the number was higher than usual (four). I saw a woman in her late 50s and a man in his 30s running. And I saw two men about my age walking. That's four people (five including myself) out of what had to have been more than 100 runners I saw when I ran from 7 to 8 a.m. Monday.

And even that was an improvement. Most of the time, I don't see any blacks when I run around Austin's Town Lake, even though we make up about 10 percent of the population. (I've seen three black women who are training for a road race through Rogue, which is one of the Austin-based runners clubs who train people to run marathons. When I ran in Fort Worth, I often bumped into one black woman (Vivian) and one black man (James) who ran the same trails as I did with Luke's Locker.)

Where are we at? We dominate the professional athletic endeavors, and I know you will find a lot of black men on the basketball courts or sandlot football fields.

But we don't run for recreation. We won't run. And when I say we, I don't mean the Kenyans and Africans who dominate the sport of running. I mean the American born black guy or girl.

I have not seen any studies about the number of American-born blacks who run, or participate in road races from 5ks to the marathon. Anecdotally, you'd have to be blind to know that for many of us, running just isn't our thing. I know the names and states of at least two dozen people who read or post things on my blog. Only two of the people I know, the bloggers who run, are black: Dawn from Connecticut and Reese from Oklahoma. I have also run into a few runners who belong to the National Black Marathoners Association.

I'm happy to report that my 60-year-old mom spends a lot of time on the treadmill. (And has even figured out how to text me while power-walking!)

I hope my white/hispanic/asian runner friends don't take offense to this post. It's people like you who got me into this running thing to begin with. And I am grateful.

But one day, it'd be nice to have to use more than one or two hands to count the number of black people I see out for their morning jog.

LAPTOP UPDATE: When Noah poured his cup of water on my computer Sunday, I just knew it would be toast. But after letting it drip dry, I turned it on last night and it fired up just fine.

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16 Comments:

Blogger Billy Burger said...

He doesn't write any longer, but check out the Lance @ Harlem 26.2 if you haven't already:

http://harlemrunner.blogspot.com/

Definitely a good - albeit somewhat controversial read from the perspective of a black marathoner.

Oh, and kudos on the laptop. Glad Noah didn't Godzilla that thing.

July 28, 2009 at 2:07 AM  
Blogger lindsay said...

it's true... i don't know of many myself come to think of it! i hardly see anyone running around these parts period no matter the skin tone. go start your running revolution! :)

glad to hear the laptop lived to see another day.

July 28, 2009 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger MikeWinAustin said...

my good friend Dionn is black.
that makes 4 of you I know that run. (the other two don't blog)
http://txtrimom.blogspot.com/
you'll meet her after her trip to australia for triathlon world championships when she focuses to run Boston with Team Rogue.

by the way... no pressure Kevin, but i've added you to my reader/readello, so you better entertain! hahaha LOL ; )
C ya at rounder.
(I think they have merlots for you to drink!)

July 28, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger M2Marathon said...

I never thought about it before, but now that you mentioned it, you're right: I don't see many black runners out there. Wonder why?

July 28, 2009 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

I don't think I had ever thought about it before, but having often run on the Town Lake trail, you're right. I have a black female friend who is training for a half-marathons...I'd be curious to see what she thinks. Since I will see her tomorrow, I'll ask her.

July 28, 2009 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Reese said...

I have noticed the same thing Kevin, but I live in Oklahoma, so I expect it somewhat. I belong to the running club in Oklahoma City, and there are less than 10 black members out of over 500. I have my theories, but too long for a comment. By the way, Dawn is from Connecticut.

July 28, 2009 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

@Billy: Yeah, I've seen his blog and there is some interesting stuff there.

@Lindsay: I'd rather listen to Prince and the Revolution.

@Mikewin: Merlot? Glad you didnt order any of that stuff tonight.

@m2marathon: I've got my theories and may do a blog post on them. What are your theories?

@Allison: Let me know what your friend thinks about the issue. I see another post on this subject.

@Reese: Thanx for the DawnB correction. I just had a brain fart. And 10 out of 500? You regularly see 10 black runners? That's more than I see.

July 28, 2009 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger rodney said...

Kevin, I too am another white guy. Hence the blog "Slow White Guy." I have noticed that not many black people take up running in my area, which is a shame. 'Cuz the few that do run are pretty good at it. And the smaller number of "serious" black runners usually place in the top 5% of our local races.

July 28, 2009 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Just_because_today said...

I feel the same way about my hispanic compadres

July 28, 2009 at 10:09 PM  
Anonymous runnerinsight said...

I also notice that less than typically seen, black runners are rare in every run that I've been to and have witnessed.

Well, thank you for bringing out this note. Start your way of running! We are here to support you! : )

July 29, 2009 at 1:36 AM  
Anonymous Jess said...

This is an interesting post. I see quite a few black runners here in Houston, but I believe the black population is higher in general here. I saw very few black runners in the Austin area.

Thank goodness the laptop is ok!

July 29, 2009 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Ryan V. said...

Check out Marc and Tanya (http://gtmfitness.blogspot.com/) and David Goggins (http://davidgoggins.blogspot.com/). Black ultramarathoners. Of course, Goggins says he is done running for awhile, but we'll see....

p.s. We missed you at El Scorcho Tres, amigo. Next year...?

July 29, 2009 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Christie said...

I've been spying on your blog for a bit now. I'm black, so I figured it's the perfect time for me to drop a line.

I live in a predominantly black neighborhood. And I don't see too many black folks out running while I'm in the park. I'm not sure what that's about. I do see a lot of walkers on the track. So kudos to them. And there is a large group of people who do this bootcamp workout at the track. So maybe running isn't their thing, but they're doing something.

Anyway, people assume that I run track or something. When I tell them that I run for my health, they appear surprised. Like running is only for sport, otherwise, there's no point in doing it. I guess that tells you how much people think about their health. It's a sad situation. We need to do better.

July 29, 2009 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Ulyana said...

I wonder about this all the time. Austin is very diverse, yet practically all my running friends are white. Same is true about San Diego, the city's diverse, yet only a bunch of white people seemed to gather in our running groups.

I wonder if this comes down to recreational running or running just for your health being marketed specifically to white people (middle class whites, probably, to be more precise). Be it by shoe stores or by race organizations. Often you see images of white folks on posters about marathons and other races, and I wonder if this makes us associate this particular type of running with a specific image.

For example, I have a certain image of what a good runner should look like - lean, strong, tall. That image associates in my head with speed. I'm far from those three (well, I'll take strong), yet from experience I know that looking like a fast runner does not mean you are fast.

My two cents.

Also, you probably know about this site, www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. Marathons are at #27 and is a funny read.

July 30, 2009 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger DawnB said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 2, 2009 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger DawnB said...

Thanks for the mention kevin, we are here. The smaller races I run there may be a handful but for the most part there is only a few. The bigger races there is alot more but still don't compare. I'm gald that I'm seeing more and more. On my daily runs I may see another black runner lets just say in the last six months, now that I'm thinking about it, two. I do see more walkers. Remeber runing have no race, runing is a passion, within. We just need to make more people know they have the passion :)

August 2, 2009 10:03 PM

August 2, 2009 at 10:07 PM  

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