In a world divided, three generations of black men united by this family bond

When Kenny Lloyd signed up to run for 2022 new york city marathon, he wanted to use running to connect with both his father and grandfather. Lloyd is certainly no stranger to this iconic race, but he’s seen his father and grandfather cross the finish line years ago. He is now running his first full marathon, not just for himself, but as his third generation black in his family. .

In 2013, Guardian Asked”Why don’t black people run marathons?“When it comes to long-distance racing, black people don’t run marathons. Two national runner surveys revealed:[ed]…only 1.6% of American marathon runners are African American, 90% are white, 5.1% are Hispanic, and 3.9% are Asian/Pacific Islander. “

Fortunately, sports diversity has increased slightly in the past Ten yearsand according to “Running USA’s 2020 National Runners Survey…3% of all runners in the U.S. are black” these days. fact “Black men in this country are targets of police attacks and so-called civilian vigilantes.” has not been widely covered by the media.

But Lloyd’s men aim to change the perception and narrative about running black men, one generation at a time. I have advocated long-distance running as a form of health.

Ahead of this year’s TCS NYC Marathon on Sunday, Lloyd spoke with ESSENCE about his family, what running his first marathon this year means to him, and how running connects with Black fatherhood and community. He told me that they were connected.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

ESSENCE: How was running a way for you to connect with your father and grandfather?

Running is the connective tissue between us. Growing up watching my grandfather run, especially running a marathon and proving that I had the ability to get out there and do something, was not just me as a kid, but us as black men. inspired the entire community of Fatherhood and running are what got me started on my running journey, to be honest.

Essence: Tell us more about how running feels to help you connect with your community as a black man.

It’s been statistically proven that black men and blacks overall are not running as aggressively as other demographics, especially long distances and marathons. Less than 1% are running. So watching my grandpa, and recently my dad run a marathon, emphasized that there is an opportunity for change and an opportunity to talk about health and wellness in the black community.

In a world divided, three generations of black men united by this family bond

The essence: Why do you think it’s so important for people to hear this story about your family, and what kind of impact do you hope to have on others?

I think I represent a demographic and younger generation that is trying to change aspects of running, not to mention changing all of the social conflicts that may be going on in the world. The ability to go out and run is influential because I want to inspire not only people who look like me, but also people who don’t look like me. I could feel the support of the Harlemites and residents of the city, and it made me think there was a change in the world of running. It’s a story that should be told.

It started with being proud to be running a marathon and it has almost become a character trait and a conversation lead. Beyond the fact that you’re about to become a third-generation marathoner, this is the larger overarching message that running is cool. Most people can participate for free as long as they have shoes, right?

I wanted my father to let me run first before my turn came, so it seemed like he was handing me the baton saying, “You can do it too.”

ESSENCE: How therapeutic is running for you?

Just go outside and it’s you, your mind and your body. Trying to find the correlation between them all creates this euphoria. It allows me personally to forget how hard my work days have been or whatever else is going on in the world and become one with this running experience. In a more literal sense, it’s good for my body. Speaking specifically to the African American community, this belief and the idea of ​​health and wellness shows that there are many things that stand against us, especially as far as helping our communities to be as healthy as possible. Thinking about it, it needs to be supported and promoted within our community.

ESSENCE: What took you so long to jump into the marathon lifestyle?

I grew up playing fast muscle sports like basketball, football, baseball and soccer. But watching my father run a marathon a few years ago made me feel like I could be the third generation to run the same marathon, carry on the tradition and achieve it. I wanted my father to let me run first before my turn came, so it seemed like he was handing me the baton saying, “You can do it too.”

Essentials: This is your first marathon.

No, I’m not nervous. Running doesn’t necessarily have to be a competition. I have a very demanding advertising job, I am an entrepreneur, and I own a lifestyle brand, so for me it’s something I’m proud to finish. It was there and we were able to achieve it. I tried my best to practice. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and feeling the energy of New York. I think the New York City Marathon is the best marathon ever. That’s because of the New York City Marathon’s versatility, its closing on Sundays to cheer on over 50,000 runners, and more.

I’ve been a spectator and volunteer before, so I’ll probably never forget being a part of it in person as a runner. I’m running and my grandpa is going to participate. We didn’t get him to race this year, but at the finish line he was celebrated by all three and it’s still amazing to share that moment together.

https://www.essence.com/news/black-men-run-nyc-marathon/ In a world divided, three generations of black men united by this family bond

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