African runners may dominate the elite field, but at mass participation level it is rare to see a black casual runner. Why is this?
It is no secret that there are very few recreational runners of color in the Western world, particularly in the United Kingdom and the USA. However, runners from African and Caribbean countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Jamaica, and Uganda dominate all the running events for elite competitions from marathons to the 100-meter race.
One of the reasons why people of color hate running may be due to cultural and self-perpetuating practices. They do not participate in any running activities since they do not see other people of color taking part in the same sport, joining running clubs where runners train, or going for morning runs in their neighborhoods. Even though some running clubs try to make the conscious effort of attracting members of different cultural and racial backgrounds, people of color are still disproportionately represented.
Another barrier to running is that people of color are usually marketed and portrayed as elite athletes. A majority of people of color are influenced by these media stereotypes, making them believe that those who take part in the running are competing to win, and since they do not have any plans of being elite athletes, they have no interest in running.
What many people of color fail to understand is that running, just like going to the gym, is a method of exercising and staying fit. Participating in races has nothing to do with your probability of winning or how much time to will take to complete the run. A majority of people who take part in marathons or races are just trying to a better person than they were the day before.
Truism maybe another reason why people of color hate running. A majority of people of color see marathons as events or activities that white people like. Since a majority of people of color grow up in poor neighbourhoods where there is a perception of danger, security is often cited as a deterrent to running. Lacking a safe place to run is one of the most common barriers for those who are interested in going for a morning run. People of color neighbourhoods also do not have adequate or, at times, no public recreation parks where they can go for runs or jogging.
Segregation may be another reason why people of color does not take part in running activities. In the 1920s, school coaches had the notion that people of color are best suited for sprints rather than distance events or lacked the discipline to pursue distance events. That may be the reason why there are very few people of color who take part in 1500m, the 800m, or marathons. These segregation practices and stereotypes from the 1920s have been internalised by people of color