In celebration of Black History Month, we’re sharing the stories of four Black Run Happy Team Members runners breaking barriers through their unique approach to the sport.
Anthony and Tara Clary – We Off the Couch
In 2014, Anthony and Tara spread the word through social media and word of mouth about their run group, We Off the Couch. “People just started showing up in droves and we just realized that we just sort of struck a nerve here with people,” Tara says. Her running journey began on the high school track team, running 400 and 800-meter events.
“Although I didn’t come from a family that championed wellness or had the tools, I’m interested in changing the trajectory of generations,” Tara says. “We’ve had patterns of poor health for so long, but it’s time to interrupt patterns,” she continues. The crew meets three times a week and welcomes runners of every fitness level to run or walk through the city of Richmond, a place with a fraught racial history.
The couple notes that leading a Black run group in the capital of the former confederacy comes with challenges. “When you are running through certain neighborhoods, that part can be difficult. People are looking at you like, why are you out here?” Anthony says. “We are occupying space out here. We yell, ‘we off the couch’ to one another,” he continues. Anthony and Tara's ‘we off the couch’ is a proclamation that poor health won’t overcome their community.
Kelvon Yancey – ZFT Run Club
Zone Fitness Training Run Club is going the distance in Houston. Kelvon Yancey started the group in 2017, modeling it after Movers and Pacers in Atlanta, where he was first introduced to distance running.
Runners came to Emancipation Park in the 3rd Ward, a historically Black neighborhood in Houston. “I wanted Black people who live in these neighborhoods to see a group running for fitness and community,” Yancey says. Now, upwards of 50 runners between the ages of 22 - 45 show up for weekly runs, where they yell chants and play music. “It’s like a football team. We bring that same energy,” he says. The strong sense of camaraderie encourages people to be proactive about their fitness, a key part of Yancey’s vision for the club.
“Houston is a city where recreation revolves around eating and partying,” he notes. Yancey sees Zone Fitness T Run Club providing a recreational activity that pays dividends. “Running helps you stay disciplined in every area of life,” he says. “Runners can weed out the things that aren’t important and focus on the things that are through the run,” he continues.
Yancey recently completed the Dallas Marathon and notes the endurance and stamina needed to train and complete 26.2 miles mirrors life. “You start realizing you are a lot stronger and can endure way more things than you ever thought that you could,” he says.
Lindsley Kump – Trail Runner
Weight loss was the starting point of Lindsley Kump’s trail-running journey, but not what kept her going. The Colorado resident started trail running in 2015 after getting into obstacle course races. Then, during the pandemic, she started trail running in the secluded woods to keep her immunocompromised husband safe.
“I just consistently ran the trails for four months and just fell in love and was like oh yeah, this is where I want to be,” Kump says. Now, she runs trails between four and five times a week, splitting her time between solo and group runs with Trail Sisters, a national trail-running community for all who identify as a woman. Kump is boldly taking on the trails but experiencing a sense of belonging remains a challenge.
“I've had to tell myself the outdoors and trail running don’t belong to anyone. It is for everyone,” she says. “I have this mantra that I look at all the time. It says you cannot be what you do not see. That’s why I continue to show up, even when crappy things happen to me,” she continues.
Kump’s commitment to trail running is part of a much larger mission. “I want other Black people to know the beauty and healing that happens in the outdoors. That is why I keep showing up. I want to show other people of colour, Black people, that you should be here too,” she says.
Running is more than a solo sport
Running is often seen as a solo sport, with one person putting one foot in front of the other. But for these four runners, it’s a collective effort to bridge communities, nurture belonging, and sustain health.
Priscilla Ward is a D.C. native keen on amplifying and celebrating Black stories. When she's not working, she’s enjoying planning her next trip, cooking, scrolling through Pinterest for interior design ideas, and curating her apartment, which she calls Haus of P.