By: Kia M. Ruiz

I've been a Black Girls RUN! member since 2012 here in Denver. I have not done much running since mid-2014 when I developed what would be a lingering stress fracture in my foot. I blame kids and my post-natal body for having some calcium issues. So, I've been working slowly with a team of folks to deal with the atrophy around my leg and hip to safely get back to running after a hiatus focused on healing. I am glad to get back to a running event schedule in 2016 include doing Ragnar Trail with BGR! Denver.

This run was at Great Sand Dunes National Park. I was staying at a land trust near the park that weekend and had planned to run here since it was close and themed nicely with the BGR! REI Explorer virtual run. However, when I arrived, the rangers in the visitor center informed me that every trail in the park was iced over and not safe, running on their roads was not an option, and that the dunes were the only way to get anything in. 

The dunes had a mix of hard sand, ice, and snow on them above 7500’,  so this was an exercise in resistance training. Our three national parks in Colorado are all at higher elevations than the 5280’ we live in around Denver. This run was a combination of walking, jogging, running, sprinting, and laying flat on the ground sucking in wind. It was a fun day out there since the wind was not whipping and the sun was out. I plan to return in March with my oldest son to rent sleds and race down the dunes again.

Becoming a Runner

January 27, 2016


By: Miesha Dennis

I am a 28-year-old, full-time working mother of a beautiful 6-year-old girl, making the conscious decision to make running a part of my life.


The truth is… we live in a world that is consuming us and most of the time we are too busy to even realize it. We’re just living the same routine day in and day out. Running has forced me out of that routine. It has forced me to look at the world around me. It has forced me to go off the grid - NO DISTRACTIONS. I don’t have to worry about emails, text messages, or Facebook. It has become my “me” time, even my therapy in a sense. 

Running has changed my life.

I run every chance I get - during my lunch breaks, in the mornings, after work - literally any chance I get. Where I used to just sit on my phone while my daughter was at Girl Scouts or dance classes, now I use that hour to hour-half to run. I even keep a spare change of running clothes and shoes in my car, just in case. It’s really quite simple. Even with the busiest schedules, you will make time for what’s important to you.


Even though I’d been running for about 4 months, I hadn’t participated in an official race, yet alone run with anyone else.

That was until I heard about the REI/BGR! Explorer 5K/10K Virtual Race.

I knew it was something I had to do. After all, I’m black. I’m a girl. I love to run. And I work for the National Park Foundation. No brainer, right?

I joined Black Girls RUN! DC and registered for the virtual race. I met up with a group that does runs at National Mall and Memorial Parks. We were a fierce 7-woman team. Some ladies were running the REI virtual race, while others were training for the Miami Ready or just running for fun.


The route looped around the Capitol to the Washington Monument, past the World War II Memorial and back around the Lincoln Memorial. The original route is approximately 5.2 miles. One of the ladies in the group offered to run the extra mile with me. A beautiful, loving, positive woman I had just met an hour before became my lifeline, my motivator, and helped me complete my first 10K race.

That day, I officially became a runner.

I came out there not sure if I would finish the 10K. And yet, I did it, proving that most of the time, our limits are only self-imposed. The feeling was overwhelming.

I’ve lived in this area all of my life. It took me 28 years to finally see and appreciate National Mall and Memorial Parks for what they really are… a beautiful, vast landscape full of so much history, tradition, and culture in the middle of our capital city. I’d like to thank REI and Black Girls RUN! for this amazing opportunity to experience my first race in a national park. Not only did I officially become a runner that day, but I also discovered that running is a great way to #FindYourPark.

I honestly cannot tell you what inspired me to go for that first run 4 months ago, but I’m glad I did. I have always lived by the idea that the key to a fulfilling life is trying to experience as many firsts as possible. I look forward to experiencing many more firsts with BGR!





I think we've all heard this saying before. But I've found this to be true more than ever this year. In 2015, we launched new programs, rolled out new merchandise and made some awesome new friends. Announcing each program, new item in the store or new virtual race was scary... but when we stepped outside our comfort zone and tried something new, that was where the magic happened. 

In 2016, we'll continue to step outside our comfort zone and push ourselves to success. And the first challenge- getting off the pavement and onto the trails! Last week we announced our first virtual race of 2016- the BGR! REI Explorer 5K/10K. We've partnered with REI to bring you BGR!'s first ever virtual trail run! We're encouraging all members to find your closest national park and crush this race there! We know it's a little different than past virtual races but we're all about new adventures this year!! (Of course, if it's just not your thing... that's totally ok too!!) 

2016 is a big year for the National Park Service too! This August is its 100 birthday!!! So to help celebrate, we'll be donating a portion of the proceeds to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks!

For more information and to register for the race, visit,