I lost my father to a health related illness at the very young age of 55 and that inspired me to be a different person – healthy and driven. So you could imagine my excitement when I was introduced to Jason Russell who I met by way of my involvement with the Atlanta BeltLine.
Jason is the founder of Black Men Run which has grown to 52 chapters globally. Jason is from Memphis Tennessee and he now lives in Atlanta with his wife and two kids. I asked Jason what got him into running, Jason said ‘My health in my 30s was not great – I was taking blood pressure medication and I knew I needed to do something about it, so I started running.’
‘So I started running 5 days a week. As a kid I watched my father run and I credit him for my inspiration with my health and the club. I wanted to be a fellowship for others and I wanted to create a club for men with a social outlet – so I started Black Men Run and I grew it through Social Media’, Jason replied.
I asked Jason about his father’s inspiration, Jason responded ‘I started Black Men Run for my Dad because I watched him run by himself his entire life (he is now 74 and still running). I wanted to create a vehicle where other African American men would not have to run by themselves. African American male runners are a minority group of an even smaller minority group so I wanted to create a place where we could train together and fellowship.’
I asked Jason what he does for a living, Jason stated ‘I am a contractor and I work on Social Media projects.’ I went on to ask Jason if he had local events that he marketed to his club, Jason said, ‘We had about 200 runners sign-up for the GA Publix Half Marathon and we had a party the night before. We also participate in the HBCU 5k.’
I went on to ask Jason what his favorite races are, Jason said ‘The Peachtree Road Race – as I have done it the past 8 years. Another is the GA Publix Marathon and the Trenton, NJ 5k/10k/half Marathon as the event director has created a Black Men Run Medal and we bring about 80-90 guys with us.’
I asked Jason what advice he would give to a new runner/walker, Jason said ‘ Get medically cleared by a doctor first, then get a good pair of shoes and pick a race/event and set a goal while finding a good program that works and stay diligent with it. Most people get hooked after participating in a few events.’
In closing I asked Jason how he tracks his daily activities, Jason replied ‘ We have a Black Men App that I use that was developed by our group that is on the iTunes store where I track all of my runs – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/black-men-run/id879979855?ls=1&mt=8
And what goals do you have for the remainder of 2015 and 2016, Jason replied ‘For 2015 – I want to do Sub 50 minutes in the Peachtree Road Race today, Complete the ATC Triple Peach, Run all races in the BeltLine series and for 2016 run my first marathon outside of the USA.’
Thank you Jason for sharing your story and I am hopeful the remainder of 2015 is a great success for you!!