To mark Black History Month, we caught up with Tasha Thompson, founder of Black Girls Do Run UK – an affiliated club and running community celebrating black women in London! Formed in 2019, Black Girls Do Run UK aim to inspire, encourage, and motivate black women to enjoy exercising regardless of ability as a running family.
Let’s find out a little more about the foundation of Black Girls Do Run UK, what Black History Month means to Tasha and those key heroes in her life.
What is the story behind BGDR?
“I had been running for 20 years at the time, and whenever I attended races which I had been doing since 1999, I didn’t see many women who looked like me at the start line, so I started to try and do something about it by creating the Black Girls Do Run Instagram page to create more visibility of regular black women running.
“You can’t be what you can’t see! Our mottos are live, laugh, run and no one is left behind. It encourages us to be together, to run together regardless of our running ability, regardless of how fast or slow we run, we encourage each other, and we champion each other.
"It is a wonderful, loving friendly sisterhood, it’s infectious. We love running, we love each other and it’s just a joy to be a part of it.”
What does Black History Month mean to you?
"Black History Month is important to me because it’s my history. In fact, it’s not just the month, it’s 365 days of the year for me. I do love October as it gives a certain focus on black history and because it gives others and myself that opportunity to learn something new about black history. I enjoy all the events that go on. It’s that special time where we shine an extra bright light on the achievements, accomplishments, and contributions that Afro-Caribbean people have made to the UK."
Have you experienced any barriers in your life, and what changes would you like to see?
“I can think of three barriers which I have had to overcome. These are stereotypes, expectation, and imposter syndrome. Those are the three barriers which I would say I’ve faced and probably still face today in some shape or form. It’s about building your confidence levels and having the confidence to jump over those barriers.
“Within sport and wider society, I would like to see more senior leadership teams which are more reflective of society, of the communities and of the people that they are reaching out to.”
Who are your heroes inside and outside of sport?
“I always find that question a little bit hard to answer.
"My sporting heroes are not anyone famous or an elite athlete. They are the women that run with Black Girls Do Run UK because they are amazing. It is not easy to fit in running with your busy life whether you’re a mother, you’re caring for your parents or you’re studying. To see them fit running in and smash their goals they are my heroes.
"My non-sporting hero, that one is easy, that is my dad. My dad came from Jamaica to live in the UK in the 1960s. His dream was to retire in Jamaica, and it took him many years to execute that dream, but he did it and he is my hero.”
Let’s hear from the Black Girls Do Run UK community!
Only beginning in 2019, the work of Tasha and the other Run Leaders have been phenomenal growing in size and impacting the lives of black women, giving them confidence in their running. Don’t just hear it from us! Here’s some of the wonderful Black Girls Do Run UK community to tell us all about it:
“Black Girls Do Runn UK (BGDRUK) has not only created a community supporting black female runners but has become a hub that has birthed confidence and has shaped the way black women show up in the run space. BGDRUK for me has become a movement that I see as transforming black women’s lives and giving us a space to be seen, heard, and respected amongst our running peers.
“The extra bit about being part of BGDRUK is that I am with women who can sympathise with how I feel to be part of a minority group in the running community. That means a lot to me.
“BGDRUK gives me so much support and inspiration and has changed my life in so many positive ways. Knowing I’m part of a family of runners just like me keeps me motivated and connected, and I feel blessed to have found them.”
What is next for Black Girls Do Run UK?
“Where we are now is just the beginning. We are London based but we want to expand throughout the UK, Birmingham, Manchester, wherever the need is for encouraging black women to run – we want to be there!”