Group helps Suffolk runners

Published 9:28 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

The Black Girls RUN! members set off on a run Thursday from Creekside Elementary School in North Suffolk.

A local chapter of a running group operating across America is helping motivate Suffolk ladies to meet and exceed their fitness goals.

Black Girls RUN! started in 2009 to encourage African-American women to get active, taking its cue from First Lady Michelle Obama’s focus on increasing fitness levels and decreasing obesity.

The Suffolk chapter currently has an ongoing run from the Creekside Elementary School parking lot at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday.

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“Having a black girls’ running group is by no means about segregating ourselves,” said the group’s Southside Co-Ambassador, Zoe Miller. “We’re open to all races.”

Miller said the group accommodates runners and walkers of all abilities.

“(With) a lot of running groups, when you join, a lot of runners are more advanced, and it can be intimidating when they are going out there and running marathons and half-marathons,” she said.

“We have the program set up so you can get out and start walking and build yourself up. We have people out there just because they want to keep moving and get healthy.

“We have members who come out and it’s their first time even attempting to walk a mile.”
Typically, she said, runners are in it for fitness objectives and as a lifestyle choice.

“Then we have members where running has been a part of their life,” she said. “Then you have people in the middle, people who just run. We hold each other accountable.”

Farriah Hickson, another group co-ambassador, said the Suffolk chapter started last October.

The loop from Creekside was recently increased to three miles, she said. “We’re hoping to increase it to two runs, with a morning run as well,” she added.

The morning run, planned for over the summer, would depart from the Creekside parking lot at 6:30 a.m. the same day.

Miller said members often enter marathons as a group, providing one another with moral support.

“For the (Virginia Beach) Shamrock Marathon, multiple ladies participated, and we had people who were not running just to provide support,” she said.

Black Girls RUN! started in Hampton Roads in May 2011, and there are 60 groups across America, Miller said.

Visit www.facebook.com/BlackGirlsRUN or www.blackgirlsrun.com for more information.