Harlem Wellness Challenge: We Run Harlem

By CC Minton

We Run Harlem! It’s like a mantra in motion.  You see them running the streets, sprinting through parks and even darting between cars.Harlem Run is a high energy running group that welcomes beginners, intermediate and elite runners. They are a community; they are like family.

Harlem Run kicked off 2015 with Harlem Gets Fit in January.  The training program brought the Harlem community together in order to learn healthy practices and to support member’s fitness goals. Every age and experience level was welcomed. The ten week running program supported the runner who was looking to start the New Year off with fitness in mind and who looked to participate in an April 5k Run.

Corner Social was the big meet up spot for the launch of their  new website HarlemRun.com.  It was a celebration of the community and the people who make up Harlem Run. The website allows the group to have an official home for the world to see and communicate with them.  A part of the group’s growth is due to having a consistent online presence.  We are thrilled for what the future will bring.

So what is next?  Harlem Run will host a Harlem One-Miler at Marcus Garvey Park. The collaborative event with Harlem United and presenting sponsor Harlem Lofts takes place on Sunday, June 21, 9:30 – 12 noon.

Harlem Run has been on the move for months but I did catch up with the Founder Alison Desir and here’s what she had to say.

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CC Minton:  You’re the founder of Harlem Run.  Why did you start the running group? 

Alison Desir:  I started Harlem Run to share my positive experiences running with others.  After many years of not running or being physically active, I picked up running again in 2012 and felt transformed, physically and mentally, by the experience.  I suddenly felt good about my body and was doing things I never thought I could.  Creating a running group in Harlem was a way for me to create community around something I enjoy and introduce others to health and fitness along the way.

CC Minton:  How has the group grown over the past few months?

Alison Desir:   The group has grown tremendously over the past few months.  This winter weather was AWFUL but we still had a pretty regular group turning up.  We knew that it was only a matter of time until the weather got nicer and people starting turning up in large numbers.  I am fortunate to have the support of 3 captains who have helped the group grow, Amir, Kai, and Kayla.  Amir actually had his own running group that he hosted out of FCBC.  We met about a year ago and instantly connected, realizing that combining our passion and efforts would make all the difference.  Having him on the team has been a huge part of our success.

CC Minton:  You use to be called Powdered Feet.  Why the name change?

Alison Desir:  Powdered Feet is a nickname my parents gave me growing up – it means someone who never stays still – someone who is always outside of the home; you never see them, you just see their footprints in powder. I changed the name of the running group to Harlem Run because I realize that Harlem is what brings us together.  It’s also an easy name for people to find when they are looking for us online or via social media.

CC Minton: I love the tagline “We Run Harlem”  How did you come up with that and what does it mean?

Alison Desir: We Run Harlem” is actually the tagline that Amir was using for his group when we first met.  Inspiration comes in many forms, but this is how it happened.  He frequents a spot in Washington Heights, Apt78, and on one occasion, he was there at the same time an uptown running crew was there doing bag check.  The name of the group, We Run Uptown Crew (WRUCREW) inspired Amir to create a similar tagline for Harlem.  We’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with them on a few runs and the support between groups is amazing- we are fortunate to be part of a really wide community of runners. And of course, we do run Harlem – the streets, the many parks, the historic landmarks- we enjoy it all on the run.

CC Minton:  Tell me about the upcoming #Harlem1Miler later this month?

Alison Desir:  The #Harlem1Miler is truly an opportunity for the community to come together on Father’s Day to celebrate fitness and community.  We are so excited by the amount of support we have already received and are thankful to our sponsors for helping to make the event a success.  We expect to have runners of all ages and abilities- from small children walking with their families, to some of the fastest runners in the area.  There will be five heats of one mile each, split by age and gender, with the final heat being a fun run the whole family can do together. People can bring a stroller or walk their dog. And, of course, there is no correct definition of family…it can be anyone you want to run with.

CC Minton: Is there a cost to get involved with the Harlem Run?  Cost of #Harlem1Miler?

Alison Desir: All Harlem Run workouts are free and welcome to everyone!  There is a cost associated with the #Harlem1Miler and the proceeds of the race benefit Harlem United.  We hope that you will come out to not only have a fun day in the park but also support the work of Harlem United at the same time!

CC Minton:  Where do you see the club in the future?

Alison Desir:  I think the sky is the limit, honestly!  Engaging with the community is really important to me and the group.  The hope is that we are able to attract more beginners and people who may never have thought that fitness was available to them.  There are huge health disparities in our community and unequal access to services.  I would like for our group to be comprised of people from various walks of life who have come together for the common goal of getting healthy.

Join Harlem Run at the One-Miler on Sunday, June 21 at Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, New York.

Click here to register >>

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