Community Spotlight: Running community brings “The Race” to the Westside

This October, expect to see approximately 2000 runners from Atlanta and around the world pounding the pavement throughout some of our beloved Westside neighborhoods as “The Race” makes its inaugural trek through Atlanta.

This Half Marathon/5K event, presented by The Unity Collective, will be a multi-day experience that promises to bring together black members of the running community in a moment of cooperative support, community uplift, economic empowerment and creating a memorable race environment. As part of the festivities, there will also be a fitness speaker series, vendor opportunities, a health and wellness expo and a day of service during which race participants will be volunteering throughout the community.

The Unity Collective founding partners consist of select members of runningnerds, Real Runners of Atlanta (podcast) and South Fulton Running Partners, and came about as a result of a series of pointed conversations about runners of color in the larger race community and in recognition of the organizational resources already in place to create a running event supported by and supportive of the black community.

Tes Sobomehin Marshall, founder of runningnerds, LLC, is serving as the race director of the event and echoes those sentiments.

“We are very passionate about supporting black-owned business and charities and running through historically black neighborhoods in the westside and southwest areas [of Atlanta] that have not seen running events of this nature pass through,” says Marshall. “We also want to be very impactful on those communities with service and bringing awareness to all the great things that are going on in those neighborhoods.”

Race participants can expect to run through at least seven different Atlanta neighborhoods throughout the half marathon event, including some of the Westside Future Fund target areas.

Marshall initially attended a Transform Westside Summit at the end of 2017 and realized a synergy with the organization; subsequently, the Westside Future Fund was named as one of the Charitable Impact Fund Partners for The Race.

Partial proceeds from The Race will be donated to Westside Future Fund, and the two organizations will collaborate to support the Westside Future Fund’s Westside Volunteer Corps, highlight service initiatives during The Race and promote related opportunities throughout the year.

“The Westside Future Fund represents an organization that is doing a lot of great things right here in this region they focus on, and we can piggyback on what they’re doing, help them get more eyes on those things and even encourage some of the other areas to model their initiatives,” adds Marshall.

Registration is still open for The Race, and as the finishing touches are put in place for the course activities, the next big ask is for members of the community to submit service project ideas. Projects could range from community clean-up projects to school supply drives.

“We’re going to need about 50 different service projects that can host anywhere from 50 to 100 people,” Marshall continues. “No project is too small.”

With an eye to that October race weekend, Marshall is quick to emphasize that every registrant for The Race is considered part of the Unity Collective and plays a critical role in their mission of fostering support for the community and inspiring individuals to achieve their health goals; and she understands the significance of creating this type of experience in Atlanta during this pivotal moment of change.

“We have some great running organizations right here in the City of Atlanta, there are some great national series, and as these neighborhoods start to become more popular…we wanted to be the first ones to showcase our neighborhoods and our rich culture and history.”

Click here to learn more about The Race.