By George Rehmet, RRCA President
In past years, I would usually run with my friends or participate in an event to celebrate Global Running Day (sometimes called National Running Day). Last year with the pandemic, I ran alone, and I was not really in a celebratory mood. Instead I was contemplative – feeling grateful that running was still possible in my area while many other countries had limited or halted outdoor activity. I was also grateful for the running clubs that focused on maintaining connections with their members virtually and supporting their communities in dealing with pandemic.
This year, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as we see a return to running in live races and running clubs are hosting group runs and training programs again. This year’s Global Running Day signifies the opportunity to look forward to getting back to the running lifestyle that we all cherish.
When calling this first Wednesday in June “Global Running Day,” we are supposed to celebrate that all varieties of runners can come together to run but that is not case. Unfortunately, the murder of Amaud Arbery and stories of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) being called derogative names, assaulted, or made to feel unwelcomed revealed that our sport of running needs to challenge racism within our society.
Last year I committed to the running community that the RRCA Board of Directors and staff would work in partnership with a diverse group of runners to develop new strategies for what we as a national organization can do to improve the safety and inclusion of all runners, especially people of color (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLkTWucxT8M)/.
Today the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC) is calling on all partners, brands and individuals, to come together to share updates on their anti-racism journey.
We answer their call. Following a series of Zoom listening and discussion sessions with BIOC running leaders, the RRCA Board of Directors embarked on the process of revising the organization’s bylaws as our first step of being authentic in our commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the sport. The RRCA bylaws, approved in April 2021, now clearly outline that the RRCA Board of Directors has a duty and responsibility, and holds itself and the organization accountable, for its on-going commitment to DEI.
As part of this ongoing commitment, the RRCA has continued to promote dialog with members through education opportunities including the 2021 RRCA Convention session on DEI. I encourage everyone to take the time to view the session (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=husnXDUbN5k&t=353s) and our upcoming session on June 15, Running Against Racism in Utica, NY, an event overview by Utica Roadrunners (details: https://runsignup.com/Race/VA/Arlington/rarcasestudy)
As we come together this year to celebrate Global Running Day, let’s not only celebrate the return of running races with our friends and fellow club members, but reaffirm that we need to ensure that running is accessible and safe for the GLOBAL community of runners. We encourage everyone to help us achieve our vision of Empowering Everyone to Run!
About RRCA: The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the oldest and largest national association of running organizations and runners dedicated to growing the sport since 1958. The RRCA champions the development and success of community-based running organizations that empower all people to participate in the sport of running in pursuit of enjoyment, health, well-being and competition. Learn more at: www.rrca.org