Not many people can make a 100-person Zoom call feel like a reunion, but Ed Walton is not like many people. The co-founder and Chief Motivational Officer of Black Men Run (BMR) joined the Saucony team recently for a virtual lunch-and-learn, in part to celebrate the start of our new multi-year partnership. With a knack for remembering everyone he’s ever worked with, Ed spent the first few minutes scanning the gallery of participants, calling out old acquaintances and reminiscing on past events and projects we’d collaborated on.
Ed has imbued that same warmth and energy into the fabric of BMR, so that no matter which chapter you run with, you feel a strong sense of community right off the bat. And that’s no surprise. The organization’s mission is to encourage health and wellness among African American men by promoting a culture of running, resulting in “A Healthy Brotherhood.” Originally founded in Atlanta, BMR now has chapters all over the U.S. and around the world.
Black Men Run welcomes people of all abilities, from those just starting out to former professional athletes. “You will never have to worry about [being] the last person on any of our runs,” Ed says. “[I find] a lot of my fastest guys come in last because they want to make sure that nobody’s being left behind.” That sense of camaraderie is what keeps people coming back, and the no-pressure atmosphere often surprises new runners—not just at BMR, but at run clubs in general.
Ed hears the same refrain from so many people who feel intimidated by joining, especially those who don’t consider themselves runners. “They say, ‘Well, when I get in shape, I’m going to [join].’ And I tell them, you don’t get in shape to come to Black Men Run. You come to Black Men Run to get in shape.” How’s that for a kick in the pants?