What started as a blog for women has turned into a national movement to fight obesity.
It’s called “Black Girls Run!,” and it has thousands of members in running groups across the United States, including one in Washington, D.C.
Before the sun comes up, a group of women are up and out with their laces tied, bottles full and iPods fully charged.
Angel Hunter joined the group one year ago and, so far, she’s lost more than 80 pounds.
“I've run like three ten-milers and I'm getting ready to do my first half marathon on Sunday,” she said.
Two friends, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks, started Black Girls Run! as a blog for women in March 2009. Three years later, it has become a nationwide movement in 30 states.
Black Girls Run! Has a simple mission: encourage black women to make healthy living and fitness a priority.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, three out of four black women are overnight or obese.
Black Girls Run! wants to lower that statistic and shatter all stereotypes.
“We don't want to mess up our hair and that we just want to sit around and not do anything, that's not true,” Hunter said.
Hunter found out about the group through social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
Maryland resident Teri Williams also started running one year ago. To date, she’s lost 30 pounds and completed her first half marathon.
“God willing, I will do the marine corps marathon in October,” she said.
Williams says she serves as an inspiration to family members who battle diabetes and high blood pressure – health issues that affect a high majority of minorities.
“You don’t have to be diabetic, you don't have to be obese or morbidly obese, you don't have to sit in the chair watching us run by, you can actually join in,” Williams said.
Calandra Dixon is the D.C. group’s running coordinator. She says since joining the Black Girls Run! she’s not only become a good runner, but a better person overall.
“For the most part I'm more conscious of what I eat and what I put into my body and how it makes me feel,” Dixon said.
It’s a feeling these ladies hope others will run into.
“You don't have to go fast, you don't have to go far, but you do need to get out and move,” Williams said.
“One day I'd like to run a full marathon but we will see what happens,” Dixon said.
Don’t let the group’s name discourage you, Black Girls Run! welcomes women and runners of all races.