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Black Girls Run! Race to End Hunger

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A Black Girl Run! group meets at Atlantic Station. The women cheer each other on during their group run. A Black Girl Run! group meets at Atlantic Station. The women cheer each other on during their group run.
ATLANTA -

Running and walking is an inexpensive way to get in shape. It is a sport in which two former sorority sisters from Middle Tennessee State University both fell in love.

Now they are trying to convince thousands of African American women to follow in their footsteps.

It all started with a question. Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks, the creators of the "Black Girls, Run!" blog asked readers if they would be willing to create running groups. Most of the women had never really tried running, but over 40,000 said "Yes." So, a sisterhood of runners was born.

One of the first things you will notice about the Tuesday night Black Girls Run! group at Atlantic Station is they like to cheer. They cheer a lot. And take pictures.

Candace Williams, 31, joined the group in July. Her goal was to help her lower her cholesterol. She was one of the many who never thought she would become a runner. She says prior to her runs, she did kickboxing and did some time on the treadmill, but has since been slowly turning into an avid runner.

It came to her as sort of a shock and that is what college friends Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks wanted, when they created Black Girls Run! as a blog three years ago.

They found the challenge to run was met with excuse after excuse, but Toni and Ashley kept pushing knowing 80 percent of African American women are overweight which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

So, they got the idea to run together in their communities in groups. They posted a question: "Would Black Girls Run?"

The found the response overwhelming with emails pouring in wanting to start groups in their own cities. They eventually signed on 44,000 women including thousands here in metro Atlanta.

Soon over 60 groups were up and running.

The pictures, like the ones snapped by the shutterbug with the Atlantic Station group, were posted and helped to get even more women involved.

Janelle Alexander-Sumpter, a special education teacher and mother of two getting ready to turn 50, says she was seriously out of shape when she started out walking about a year ago. She has lost 75 pounds.

One of the things Janelle enjoys about being part of the group is the "leave no woman behind" mentality. She says those who get done first will be waiting for you at the end.

Candace says that the women will literally hold your hand to the end. And, when the practice run is over, they line up to celebrate you back because that's what sisters do.

Think you want to try it? Sunday, September 16th, the first-ever Black Girls Run! Race to End Hunger will be held at Atlantic Station. There's a 5K and a 10K. And don't worry, everything is co-ed. They are asking women to bring their husbands, boyfriends, partners, kids, or anyone else who wants to run with them.

For more information about the organization and the Race to End Hunger, go to blackgirlsrun.com.

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