‘We run this town’
Detroiters meet on the riverfront for ‘a network out’
By Jazmine Steele
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Their view from the top is well-deserved. The sweat, strain and struggle it takes to make it up the hill rewards a bittersweet pride. Every week runners, walkers and joggers meet on Detroit’s riverfront for fitness, fun and networking. The event, Run This Town Detroit, is only two months old but has created a strong fitness movement among young professionals in the city.
“We call it networking out,” Terrence Thompson, 33, said.
Thompson and his friends Shawn Blanchard, 29, and Armond Harris, 23, have joined forces to begin a movement that’s got everyone wanting to run along Detroit’s Riverfront. Properly named Run This Town, the movement draws crowds of people every Tuesday and Saturday ready to run at least three miles or more.
“It makes it fun to workout and you don’t even know you’re shedding and trimming pounds until it’s all over,” Blanchard said.
Unlike many fitness options, Run This Town is totally free. The event begins with at least 30 minutes of networking time and is followed by a 10-minute warm up and stretch. The group breaks into three sections: runners, joggers and walkers. Each section is appropriately paced but equally strenuous. After each section completes their workout, they come back together to do a circuit workout and run up the hill located just before the Dequindre cut.
The runners appear to be mostly under 40 and can give the intimidating allure that they are all professional runners. However, many of them are beginners.
Angela Williams, 32, is a perfect example. Last Saturday she joined the Run This Town group for the first time.
“This motivated me to come down and to keep getting in shape since it’s so close to where I live, it’s convenient and a beautiful day. Why not?” she said.
Although Williams has no elaborate athletic goals set yet, she says she simply wants to keep getting better.
Carlton White, 30, has ambitious plans for his running efforts. Prior to joining the Run This Town workout he had already began his Saturday morning with a 5K race.
“I don’t have anything else to do, I’m trying to get rid of my gut and I’m trying to get ready for a marathon,” White said.
In only 45 days he has quickly adapted to a runner’s lifestyle.
“Before then, I swore off running, hated running and wouldn’t run. We wasn’t about that life,” he said.
Run This Town Detroit has ignited an appreciation for fitness in the city and given residents a resource to tackle obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama has placed significant emphasis on national health and fitness and her initiative is currently being embraced by other major cities. Thompson and Blanchard witnessed it while living in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
“In both of these cities you see a lot of young professionals running throughout the city,” Blanchard said. “What we want to do is create momentum to make it normal to see a herd of people running the streets of Detroit instead of something that’s taboo here.”
Run This Town isn’t the only component of Networking Out. Blanchard, Thompson and Harris will unveil more of their goals for this movement in the coming months. In the meantime, runners are encouraged to continue to join the movement and consider this a head start.
For more information, visit Run This Town (Literally) on Facebook or @RunthistownDET on Twitter.
Contact Jazmine Steele at jazminesteele@ yahoo.com.