Running is for everyone

Melanie Murzeau, the founder of Black Runners of GTA (BRGTA) run group, was so kind to chat with us about this Greater Toronto Area run group:

The Black Runners of GTA is almost two years old. The group started as an Instagram group during the pandemic when we were all running solo. But moved to an in-person run group when Murzeau and the other members of BRGTA ran together for a virtual race. 

After the Ahmaud Aubury murder, Murzeau started the online group as a form of positive representation for Black, Indigenous and racilized individuals, as a way for new runners who lived too far from Toronto to be introduced to and participate in the incredible local Toronto running community.

This is the mission, vision, and ethos of BRGTA:

Mission: Representation matters  

Vision: Bringing BIPOC runners into the larger running community, such as races, run crews or running friends.

Ethos: Running is for everyone and Unbutu. You don’t have to be a specific size, run a certain pace or be a part of a formal run crew. 

When asked what Ubutu means to her, Murzeau shared “if you are not already aware, the Ethos is technically the spirit of the community in this space on instagram. Skin colour should not matter, but on some level it does, and far too often quick assumptions are made of a person before we know their story. We have to unlearn this. 

I recently learned through the Vaughan African Canadian Association’s Sharnett Martin, the African philosophy UBUNTU: I am because we are. African Humanism. Seeking the highest possible multiplier effect for results we can achieve together as a community. The ethos is based on this.

We are all runners. We all want to be better-addicted to self improvement: exemplified in the goals we set for ourselves, what we see in each other as a running crew and most importantly causes we support in fundraising.

As a running community we should strive to make allyship a verb. 

We should be seeking to have equality in the running community. Representation, hearing stories, changing internal narratives, community involvement, inclusion and charities that support underrepresented communities. UBUNTU. We are all runners, creating a multiplier effect of what we can achieve as a community as a whole.”    

Murzeau believes BRGTA is an opportunity to provide access to those unfamiliar with running as an easy entry point into the sport. “I personally just created Black Runners of the GTA as an exercise of inclusion and acceptance of others. I didn’t see the impact that it had, however, I’ve been told on multiple occasions to not stop what I’m doing and that it has meaning and impact. It is appreciated. When someone tells me how I’ve influenced them it makes me happy and provides me joy. I am reminded every day of the impact of people who have seen themselves reflected in an online space.” 

“Two of the Otto’s Ottawa Power Crew members are supporters of Black Runners of the GTA, and they remind me all the time how this group has impacted them.” BRGTA is coming up to their 2nd anniversary and they have a couple of fun and exciting running events coming up. 

Moving forward, Murzeau and BRGTA will be having more inclusive events with the aim of removing barriers to running in the community. BRGTA is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as its own online forum.