263. Alison Mariella Désir, Founder Harlem Run & Run 4 All Women, Marathoner, and Activist, Talks About Her New Book, Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasnt Built For Us

Alison Mariella Désir is the Author of the eye-opening new book, RUNNING WHILE BLACK:  Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn’t Built for Us.  Alison is also a runner, marathoner, activist, mental health advocate, founder, and Mother. She is the co-chair of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition and the Director of Sports Advocacy and an Athlete Advisor for Oiselle, She is a Brooks Run Happy Ambassador, and she is the founder of Harlem Run, an NYC-based running movement, and the Run 4 All Women, an organization focused on social justice through movement, that has raised over $400,000 for non-profits Planned Parenthood and Black Voters Matter.

Today on the podcast, Alison and I are talking all about her new book, Running while Black.  We rewind to where it all began-how running saved her life, how training for her first marathon inspired her to build Harlem Run Club, and where her passion for Run 4 All Women and social justice through running began and how all of these initiatives have grown and evolved culminating in her story, all of which she talks about in her new book.

Running While Black weaves historical context—from the first recreational running boom in Oregon, to the unrecognized Black pioneers of the sport, to the horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery—together with Alison’s own story of growth in the sport to show America’s history of white supremacy across major institutions. Désir unpacks how we got here and advocates for a world where everyone is free to safely experience the life-changing power of movement. Alison shares how as she became involved in the running community and learned its history, she realized that the sport was largely built for those who are white, thin, and fast, and have no idea what it is like to live in a Black body. Alison and I also talk about what it took to bring this book to fruition, I get the scoop on her newest venture and retreat, Women of Color Take The Lead and how she’s staying fit in the process.

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