Running Is Too White. It Doesn’t Have to Be.

We need to make running accessible — and safe — for non-White Americans

Ryan Fan
LEVEL

--

Photo: RunPhoto/Getty Images

Thanks to the pandemic, I haven’t met up for runs with my cross-country team lately. But when we were all in the same locker room, a look around made one thing clear: Except for one or two teammates, everyone else was White.

As is the rest of the running world.

Of course, some of the most successful runners in the world are not White; athletes in Ethiopia and Kenya reign supreme at events beyond 400 meters on the track and tend to dominate the world of long-distance running. In track and field, any events 800 meters and less are not as White and more accessible and representative of American demographics.

The world of running being “too White” particularly pertains to the West and primarily in recreational running. It’s the world I grew up in and the world I currently know. A quick look through LetsRun’s popular forums finds that confronting the Whiteness of running breeds a lot of hostility.

People continuously post questions like these:

  • “Why is something being white a bad thing?”
  • “Why are people bringing up the ‘whiteness’ of running ‘leftist trolls?’”

--

--

Ryan Fan
LEVEL
Writer for

Believer, Baltimore City IEP Chair, and 2:39 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Support me by becoming a Medium member: https://bit.ly/39Cybb8