Local runner, Ruba Talukdar running. through an urban alley with graffiti on the walls




Local runner to take on The Big Half

People in my local community don’t expect me, a Muslim woman, to be participating in events like The Big Half

Ruba Talukdar

However much she might dislike the cobbled section of the route, Ruba knows the importance of continuing to take part in events like The Big Half to improve representation and inclusion in mass participation events.

“People in my local community don’t expect me, a Muslim woman, to be participating in events like The Big Half,” she says. “But I do it to inspire and motivate other people to do something – to get moving. There are many health issues within the local community (in Tower Hamlets) and we need to get people out of their comfort zone by showing them that running, amongst other forms of exercise, is possible for everyone.

“There are many open, green spaces in Tower Hamlets that people can use to get active. We need to encourage local people into signing up for running events like The Big Half.”

And speaking about what event organisers can do to help engage local communities, Ruba was clear. “They need to become more involved in the local areas, speak to the locals and understand the needs and barriers of the community. There are some cultural and societal issues that make it more challenging for the Bangladeshi and Muslim communities to not only get into physical activity, but to feel some kind of acceptance and belonging.”

As an Asian and Muslim woman, Ruba has often felt the judgement of others in her local community. She explains: “I don’t often run in Tower Hamlets. As an older Asian woman who runs in a hijab, I’ve occasionally had stares from members of the local community, but I don’t let it bother me or stop me from doing what I love. The physical and mental health benefits of running, and taking part in events like The Big Half, are more important to me. What we need to demonstrate to people in the area, particularly in the Asian community, is that if someone like me can run, so can they; it just requires planning, discipline, consistency and effort”.