[caption id="attachment_549" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The PBRC in Charleston, SC for the Cooper River Bridge Run"]
Toni and I receive a lot emails asking us advice on starting a running group and getting other women of color to participate. I am not an expert on the topic, so I thought it would be best to reach out to one of my fellow BGRs, Loree Hickman, who has plenty of experience successfully starting a running group for women of color. As the founder of the Purple Butterfly Running Group in Charlotte, NC, Loree is accomplishing her mission of helping black women in the city get in shape.
1.What made you decide to start Purple Butterfly Running Group, and when did the group officially start?
I decided to start PBRC because I love running, and I wanted to introduce more women of color to the sport. At the starting line of all my races a friend and I would jokingly count the number of black women. I decided that the number should increase. I want women to know that running is challenging but rewarding.
[caption id="attachment_551" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Purple Butterfly Running Group"]
2. What types of challenges did you run into when you started the group?
My biggest challenge has been to accept that I am one person and a lot of the things that I want to happen can’t happen right away. Starting a running group is a lot more work than I anticipated, and I don’t recommend starting one alone. If you have the desire to start a group make sure you have one or more dedicated partners to help with all the responsibilities. I have also found it difficult to get dedicated volunteers for the various running levels that PBRC has.
3. We get a lot of emails from readers who are looking to start a running group in their area. What advice do you have for them, and what do they need to know to get started?
As I mentioned before, do not start your group alone. Make sure you have a partner to share the responsibilities. Run with other organized running groups so that you can get a general idea of how successful running groups operate and then add your own creative ideas to your group. There are also great resources on the web that provide great information on starting a running club, do your research before you start.
4. I have watched PBRC grow over the past couple of months. How do you market the group in order to get more runners to come out?
I do not have a magic marketing secret. Every three months PBRC starts a new beginner class. Before our new class starts, I send a mass email to everyone on my contact list and they pass it along to any interested parties. I have also been blessed with a great group of ladies who tell everyone they see about our club so I get several emails a week from ladies inquiring about my club because they have met a member somewhere. I also have a facebook page, twitter account
and a blog
5. What is your long-term plan for PBRC?
I want to continue to expose as many women of color to running as possible. I would love to have regular volunteers and a more structured program every week. I would also like to turn our club into a non-profit and start a program for middle school girls.
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