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The Running to Protest Movement and a Reckoning in the NYC Running Community

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On June 14th, 2020, 700 runners met at the East River Amphitheater in Manhattan, New York—masks on their faces and clad in white clothing. They were running in response to the reckoning on White supremacy and racial violence that had spread around the country. This was the first event in the Running to Protest Movement. Four events would follow, where hundreds of runners, would flood the bridges and streets of New York, demanding justice for Black people. I wanted to learn more about the Running to Protest movement, and how it is affecting the New York running community. This episode features two interviews that explore the power of running to demand justice and amplify a movement in “the greatest city in the world.”

First, I speak with Coffey, the founder of Running to Protest and much more: a Brooklyn-based father, filmmaker, runner, actor, model, and founder of Define New York Run Club. Coffey is, simply, a powerhouse in the New York running community and beyond. He talks openly about the reality of being a Black runner in NYC, and the creation and future of Running to Protest.

Next, I speak with Chris Chavez, Sports Illustrated journalist and founder of CITIUS MAG, through which he hosts various podcasts including the CITIUS MAG Podcast and Runners of NYC. Chris holds much insight on the New York running community, due to both personal involvement and his journalism.

Discussed in this episode:

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Coffey Quotes:

  • “If someone tells me ‘no,’ there’s a way around that.”
  • “We’re in 2020 still dealing with the same thing that’s been happening for 400 years. It amazes me. I would never think that in 2020 I would be on a Zoom conversing with you about what’s happening now…But here I am. And I’m gonna do my best, whatever it is, as long as I’m here, to try and create great things out of the bad things occurring.”
  • “We will always be running to protest, trying to shine a light on what’s wrong. And there’s a lot of wrong when we can’t be looked upon as equals.”

Chris Quotes:

  • “There’s definitely been an awakening in the New York City running scene.”
  • “The analogy that gets thrown around is this is a marathon and we’re still on mile one. But you can make the argument that we’re still at home having our coffee before we even show up for the race…we’ve got a long way to go even now.”
  • “I recognize that it takes time to see the change that you want to happen in this world. There are so many different areas that need improvement, and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

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