RunGrl Founder Ashlee Green Wants All Black Women to Go the Distance


Ashlee Green was an active child growing up. “But active in the sense that I used to play outside with my friends and was drinking water from the water hose,” she tells POPSUGAR. “I didn’t play sports. I was too scared.”

Founding a media company for Black women runners, RunGrl, was definitely absent from her grade-school bingo card. She ran track for all of two weeks in middle school. But that was it. Organized sport was just not a part of her upbringing, she recalls.

Running in particular never even crossed her mind. And if it did, she often pictured the same stereotype as most people — “white men, split shorts and their Nikes running in Portland, Oregon” — never herself. That just wasn’t what was reflected in the media.

Running wouldn’t become a part of her life until after graduating college amid the 2008 recession, when she moved to Chicago for an internship. She was working at the Nike store part-time to supplement her income when running sort of fell into her lap.

“I just had access to the gear,” she says. Not to mention, her coworkers, several of whom looked like her, were runners. “I had a friend who ran six miles every day,” Green tells POPSUGAR. Before she knew it, she was joining them.

“I just got a pair of Nike shoes on my discount and started running,” Green says.

Running became an opportunity for her to be active, connect with the people she was working with, and see more of her new home, Chicago.

By 2011 she was running her first race, an 8K in Chicago known as the Shamrock Shuffle. And by 2013, Green moved to DC and joined a running club known as the District Running Collective, working her way up to run captain. “The District Running Collective is where I found my stride, literally and figuratively,” Green says.

As the DRC community grew, so did Green’s perspective on what running could do for the Black community, and more specifically Black women. At this point, the DRC had grown from runs of 30 people to runs of 100, garnering attention from national publications like Runner’s World magazine.

But that’s when it became apparent to Green that Black women “were never taken seriously in the space.” The conversations that she was having post-runs with other Black women — whether on how to find the best running tights for curvier figures or how to deal with hypersexualization while running — those topics weren’t being covered mainstream. In 2015 and 2016, many outlets and brands were still featuring “blond women with their ponytails, super skinny, doing their thing,” Green says.

That’s when she, along with five other DRC runners — Jasmine Nesi, Dominique Burton, Stephani Franklin, Na’Tasha Jones, and Natalie Robinson — all got together to create RunGrl, a media company that was focused on delivering a regular cadence of content geared directly toward Black women. Since launching in 2017, the IG platform has garnered over 12,000 followers. The company hosts community-based events across the country with billion-dollar brands like Hoka and Under Armour.

As the brand continues to grow, it does so primarily in support of generational health outcomes for Black families. Black women are more often than not doing the brunt of caretaking, caregiving, cooking, grocery shopping, and managing of health and wellness for their families, Green says. RunGrl hopes to provide a breadth of resources that meet those women where they are to help them support their families and their health and wellness. “So maybe at big momma’s house, we’re having smoothies along with our dinners,” she says.

Through it all, RunGrl continues to be an “unapologetic space” where Black women are intentionally seen and served. “We are for us, by us. And that’s it,” Green says.

That’s not to say they’re exclusive. “Anybody that wants to pull up, please by all means pull up,” Green says. Just know that “the message, the language used, the images that we share, the conversations that we have are going to be centered around experiences that Black women have and Black women only,” she tells POPSUGAR.

Alexis Jones is the senior health editor at POPSUGAR. Her areas of expertise include women’s health, mental health, racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare, diversity in wellness, and chronic conditions. Her other bylines can be found at Women’s Health, Prevention, Marie Claire, and more. Alexis is currently the president of ASME Next, an organization for early-career print and digital journalists.

Image Sources: Khay Shots and Photo illustration by: Aly Lim

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