“It took on a life of its own,” Fernandez de Castro said. “It’s very grass roots, very simple. It’s all about breaking down the walls in your head and then applying that attitude to life.”
Fernandez de Castro said his runners share personal stories of overcoming cancer, living with diabetes, getting divorced, losing jobs, losing weight.
Aaron Cohen, the triathlete and father of two killed by a motorist last year when he was riding on the Rickenbacker, was part of Team FDC. Many members will be running in his honor, and 10 of his friends from Chicago have entered the ING race.
“Miami is way behind the times in addressing safety and just following the Golden Rule, as my daughter would say,” Fernandez de Castro said. “With a group, you feel a sense of camaraderie. We’re out on the road together and we care about each other.”
Black Girls Run is the local chapter of an organization with 60 groups across the U.S. In the tri-county area, BGR has 1,200 members running at a dozen locations. About 250 are registered for Sunday’s event. The group holds clinics, such as “From Couch to 5K,” and provides advice on its Facebook page on everything from hydration to hair.
“I’ve gone natural,” said Sonya Hickman of Plantation, ambassador for the South Florida group. She’ll be running her sixth half marathon, 14 years after she broke her back.
“I thank Black Girls Run because they saved my life,” Hickman said. “I’ve lost 30 pounds. I’ve learned to love asparagus.
“This is a movement. You can count by hand the number of black women in road races, but there are plenty who want to run marathons and triathlons. There are also plenty with hypertension and diabetes because we don’t work out! If you are part of a group effort, you can have some fun and stay motivated.”
Other groups include World Vision, Team in Training, Team iRun and Our Lady of Guadalupe. South Floridians are getting in shape, and on Sunday they will join their running partners for the challenge they’ve been anticipating.
“One Saturday I put out 450 cups at a water stop near Old Cutler Road,” Ruiz said. “They were gone in an hour.”