Founded in 2019 by Tasha Thompson, a keen runner who wanted to create an Instagram page to connect Black women, Black Girls Do Run UK (BGDRUK) has grown by an amazing 600 per cent to become a physical community that inspires, encourages and motivates black women to run. We speak to BGDRUK member Melanie Folkes-Mayers (picture above, top row second on the right) about how being part of a running group has helped her through some tough times.
How have the past 18 months been for you?
They’ve been a challenge. I’ve been running my human resources business and I wrote my first book, with my husband working from home and home-educating our two daughters, aged five and seven. My mother also started chemotherapy just as the lockdown began.
Finding time for myself and being able to follow a thought through to the end was really hard, and I found myself staying up after everyone had gone to bed, just so I could get some work done.
How has running helped your mental and physical health during this time?
My running time is a chance to de-stress and clear my mind. All alone early in the morning, I could feel the fog lifting and the Covid pounds dropping.
Running with BGDRUK was great – I could chat with the other ladies and push myself to run faster and longer. I’ve managed to maintain my weight and run more often and further.
What does community mean to you?
Community is supporting and having support in a safe space. It’s very important to me to have a place where I belong and can be myself without judgement.
As well as being part of BGDRUK, do you feel part of the wider running community?
Yes – everyone is always friendly during races.
Why do you think people should take up running?
It’s great for your physical and mental health, plus you can run anywhere and you don’t need a lot of equipment to start.
Why do you think people should get involved in The Big Half?
It’s fab to run around London and highlight the benefits of running. Races are so much fun, the atmosphere is amazing.
Why is it important for you to be part of this event and ‘run as one’ with others?
I’m training for a marathon so it’s a part of my training plan but, more than that, I want to run with friends and have fun achieving something great.