Running is a language recognized in nearly every corner of the world. It binds people from all walks of life, without judgment of one’s skin color, sexual orientation, age or economic disposition. By simply committing to put one foot in front of the other, running has the power to change lives, and it can also inspire us to become a better version of ourselves.
At Brooks, we celebrate the many voices of the running community. We celebrate your story–the reasons you run and what keeps you going.
Running can shape our motives from a young age. When 15-year-old Riley Ortega set out running in Arizona, at 5 a.m. one day last fall, his intent went well beyond wanting to witness a beautiful sunrise, as he often does before going to school. This effort was the start of a 1,400-mile journey to North Dakota to raise awareness about what he deemed a potentially damaging initiative, the North Dakota Access pipeline. Running can be not only a form of activism, but also a form of prayer, which he practices ritually as a member of the Hopi Tribe.
For Roma Van der Walt, a 33-year-old mother in Brooklyn, New York, running takes on a different motive. It’s a show of her resilience after having a newborn, proof not just to herself, but also to others of the strength and capability of women and their bodies. Just seven weeks after having her first child in March, she’d rebuilt her endurance to run seven miles while pushing a stroller. Running can teach us how to reset.
It can also show us another way to live, like it has for Chicago resident John Avila, 54, who became involved with the city’s local chapter of Frontrunners, an LGBT running group, in 2014. Running is what helped him navigate being newly divorced from his wife of more than 20 years. The support from the running community elevated his confidence as he grew to appreciate his new reality of being gay and wanting to live a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Running toward better health is what inspires Halo Abdulla weekly around neighborhoods in Los Angeles, where she moved to from Saudi Arabia in 2016. But for Halo, 24, running also represents a form of gratitude. She is inspired to lead by example as she continues find her place in the running community.
We’re launching the Voices of the Run series showcasing everyday runners whose journeys with the run showcase its truth and its joy. The runners profiled here share in their own words how running continues to motivate, empower and better their days.
Runner Stories as told to Sarah Gearhart
Sarah Gearhart is a sports journalist based in New York City. Formerly a senior producer for USA TODAY Sports, her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Runner’s World Magazine, ESPN, Vice Sports and Victory Journal.
An avid runner for 17 years, she is a three-time Boston Marathon qualifier and has completed 11 marathons, most recently in Berlin, Germany, where she also curated a running-related photography exhibition. She will run her 12th marathon this September in Germany.