More and more people are prioritizing their mental and physical well-being by surrounding themselves with community.

As community building continues to be at the forefront of people’s minds, many are exploring outdoor options. One of those options happens to be the increased interest in joining a run club. A run club is when a group of people gather to run a specific distance together. Whether it be a marathon, cross country or short distance, run clubs provide a sense of community and motivation for their members.

Black Girls Run is an organization that aims to encourage Black women to live a healthier lifestyle. Jay Alexander, owner and CEO, founded Black Girls Run in 2009. The run club began with a mission to combat obesity within the Black community and has since expanded as a community resource for fitness and sisterhood. Black Girls Run is a nationwide club with ambassadors across different cities.

Eden Mabry serves as the Black Girls Run coordinator and has been a member of the organization for nearly 10 years. Her journey to joining the group started in 2016 after she scooped out their Facebook page for some time. Mabry resides in Atlanta and saw a Facebook post announcing a meet-up at Atlantic Station. After getting caught up with the demands of life, Mabry desire to prioritize herself and physical health encouraged her to show up at the meet-up.

“I knew that I needed to make a change,” Mabry told 21Ninety. “I thought that I would take a stab at it. However, because of the name Black Girls Run, I thought I would at least give it a try. Never in a million years did I think eight years later, I would still be a member.”

Mabry and her group meet in Fairburn, Georgia, on Wednesdays and Saturdays for a 5K run. The run coordinator prepares her members for the long trek with a series of stretches. While stretching their limbs prepares their body for the journey, the motivational element encourages members to finish. While 5K may be the goal, some members may not make it to the end, which isn’t an issue for Mabry. She understands that each person’s endurance is different, especially for first-timers.

“One of the models that Black Girls Run has is no woman left behind,” she said. “If we have someone coming out for the first time and expressing to us that they are just starting out, then we’re with them. If they just want to do a mile and see how it is, that’s what we do.”

As run clubs rise in popularity, Mabry understands the hesitations that come with people putting themselves out there in a way they’ve never done before. She’s seen that the most challenging part from new members is starting. However, the support that Black Girls Run provides cultivates an environment that empowers Black women to continue on their health journey. 

“There’s nothing like [Black Girls Run],” she told 21Ninety. “I’m someone who has never been athletic. I wasn’t an athlete. And this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.”