October 18, 2016 15 Comments
In 2011, we hosted our first race meet-up in Atlanta with ladies flying in from all of the country to run the then, Georgia Publix Marathon, and to meet the faces behind Black Girls RUN! We were shocked and stunned as we sat looking around the table listening to these women from various backgrounds and running abilities, share their passion for running and the need for community and dialogue around black women’s health and the lack of minorities in the running industry. Honestly, if it weren’t for those brave souls taking a chance and accepting our invite to run a half-marathon with us, we wouldn’t be the organization we are today.
Since then, our race meetups have been one of the pillars of the Black Girls RUN! experience. It’s an opportunity to meet women from around the country who share the same excitement and love for BGR!, while accomplishing whatever distance or beating whatever time they have trained for for weeks. It’s a time where we can rally around each other and celebrate one another as we are all on a journey to become a better version of ourselves through running.
For years we partnered with running events and race directors to carefully choose racing events and locations that would welcome our BGR! members with open arms, only working with organizations that truly believed in our mission and vision and understood the greater impact that our organization was making, not only in the African-American community, but how it was transforming the running industry as a whole. We developed healthy partnerships that were a win/win for both organizations. For them, they would increase their race numbers on race day with the ability to align themselves with our brand and market directly to our members. For us, we would receive partnership and/or marketing dollars to help us financially grow the organization.
However, over the past several years, we have seen a tremendous shift in his model - unfortunately for the worst. There are numerous event directors and race organizations that we no longer work with simply because they refuse to support our organization from a national level -- deciding it’s in their best interest (and more cost effective) to approach our groups, members and ambassadors directly and offer them discounts, perks, and sometimes money to market their event to our local groups. While this may seem harmless, it has caused severe financial implications to our organization and has ultimately threatened the sustainability of Black Girls RUN!.
When this happens, we are unable to approach these organizations to develop a partnership because they already have the groups, members, and ambassadors promoting their event….for practically free, instead of paying Black Girls RUN! marketing dollars nationally. Simply put, these organizations are using Black Girls RUN! for its benefit without contributing or giving back to the people who work hours on end every day to make sure our groups are operating seamlessly, that our website functions, or that our lights remain on. They are simply profiting off of an amazing idea that Ashley and I had back in 2011.
We’ve thought long and hard about how to approach this, and we believe that the only way to make change happen is through transparency. With that being said, we have compiled a list of races and organization that we no longer do business with because they were unwilling to support Black Girls RUN! from a national perspective, have side-stepped our organization to use our community and our ambassadors to market their events without compensating the organization, and/or have piggybacked on events or stolen our concepts to give themselves a better market position while continuing to milk the BGR! brand in its marketing and advertising.
And, honestly this list does not include the countless other races that have broken national protocol and have created relationships with our local groups. We need your support and commitment to make sure we work with races that support Black Girls RUN! at a national and local level. We want to make sure the organizations we partner with realize our worth and do not just want to capitalize off what we can bring to the table vs. it being mutually beneficial. We need your support and commitment to stop the cycle of creating these relationships with races without having the proper approval.
This isn’t about creating drama or “putting someone on blast,” however, as social entrepreneurs and small business owners, we realize the value of Black Girls RUN! to OUR community and how we have almost single-handedly changed the face of women’s recreational long distance running in the United States.
The power of Black Girls RUN! Is immeasurable and it is up to all of us to preserve our history, our legacy and our future.
Toni & Ashley
January 02, 2017
1st I wasn’t aware that BRG participated in certain race events in exchage for support.
2nd Please provide a list of BGR supported races, for transparency.
Rj Renea Jones
November 17, 2016
I stand with you. As a small business owner myself, I know the struggle is real. What can we do to help other than this?
November 16, 2016
Standing Strong BGR…
November 16, 2016
I first learned about Black Girls Run! after running the Rock n Roll DC half and noticing so many females with the BGR! gear and seeing ladies lined up along the course supporting BGR! runners. I was truly impressed. Later, after the race, I spoke with one of the ladies and she told me about the local BGR! groups and the meetups for training runs. The selling point for me was safety in numbers – the ability to train for longer distances with a group of ladies. The amazing crowd support during races was “the cherry on top”.
I did not join BGR! for endorsements or financial support from race promoters. While I understand your point of view from a business aspect, I can’t say I appreciate the boycotting of running events. Here’s why: the reality is, there will still be BGR! members who opt to participate in the races promoted by some of those organizations. Those runners would simply not have the crowd support of their run group. Surely there is another way to gain endorsements without taking away from your members.
Personally, Rock n Roll came before BGR! I run races for the experience, among other things. While the Rock n Roll race series has been consistent on delivering a great race experience, I can’t say the same for BGR! My most recent experience (there are others) was the empty BGR! tent at the Trenton race last month. It was quite a disappoinment to see other groups with people manning their tents, providing bag check options for their members, and being there for last minute race support while the BGR! tent stood there empty. I think BGR! was one of, if not, the largest run group at the Trenton Half, yet we lacked support at the start line.
Rather than incite a boycott of the bigger race promoters, I would challenge you to find other ways to gain endorsements without taking away from your members. I would suggest you look at operation models from other groups/clubs, i.e. Black Men Run, New York Road Runners, etc. and see how you can adopt some of their practices to benefit both BGR! and the members. Additionally, I would ask that you keep the foundation of BGR! in mind. According to your website, BGR! “was founded in an effort to tackle obesity in the African American community and provide encouragement and resources to runners.”
November 15, 2016
Thanks for your honesty and transparency. You have my support! Stay strong and remain true to your vision and ideals.
November 15, 2016
It would certainly help if your position could’ve stayed in something less than a dissertation
November 15, 2016
I will not knowingly support any group or organization that will not support us
October 31, 2016
I just heard yiu on RRA podcast and I’m standing with you. RnR and Hot Chocolate won’t get my $$ in 2017 until BGR gives the okay. Run strong sisters
October 30, 2016
I will not take part in any race that will not support and honor all the hard work you ladies have done and continue to do. I will get my 1/2 marathon done but it will be for an organization that supports us..
October 28, 2016
I’m standing with you.
October 25, 2016
I’m sorry to hear that they are up to their old trick, divide and conquer. I’ve place a copy of this blag on our San Diego group and hope that other will help spread the word to other souther California groups. Peace be with you.
October 24, 2016
I too love and support your brand and message. I being an entrepreneur myself understand the power of branding and support. I will like to know how I can help in any way so that these organizations can rightfully honor and see BGR! valuable impact in the running/health community.
October 20, 2016
Toni, I saw a little of your periscope piece, and I was moved in my heart to share what I have. Let me know.
October 18, 2016
How can I step up to help
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January 23, 2017
I support what BGR is doing. As a small business owner myself, I have seen how big organizations find ways to undercut smaller ones, especially grassroots movements. BMR was created out of the BGR model and hasn’t grown to BGR’s level yet (although it’s expanding) and NYRR is presently being sued for some false advertising and financial discrepancies so no one should suggest we learn from them. I’m fine knowing an organization led by women who dedicated their lives to making our community healthier can get dollars to expand. I support Black Business!!
In order for any organization to survive both in ideals and in finances, we have to remain united. If you decide to race with these, feel free. But keep in mind that there are MANY other races to choose from. I’m fine with not supporting races that want to blatantly undercut a national BLACK organization (that serves a population they all ignored) by dividing us locally.