photography: Kept Frozen
“I just really want to change the narrative of what a runner looks like”, Stephen Love thoughtfully states as we chat about his local running club, 6Run5. With a mission of encouraging Black people to run, 6Run5 is bringing a whole new vibe to the wellness space in Nashville and everyone needs to be here for it. Birthed from a place of true love for running, Stephen turned a personal running challenge in college into one of Nashville’s go-to running clubs.
Betting on Yourself
It was a 30 mile, 30 Day Nike Challenge that was introduced to Stephen by his college roommate. It was just supposed to be a month. They would take the challenge, knock out a few goals and keep it moving. Well, Stephen actually enjoyed running and decided to keep the party going. As he shares “I realized, I could always be a little healthier”. From starting at 30 miles a month, he is actually now up to almost 120 miles a month! My mouth dropped a little when he shared, as the running struggle is real for me. However, in listening to Stephen it was evident that running is more than just a physical activity, as he reflected “I’m my only obstacle so whatever I put my mind to, I can do it”.
For many, the activity of running can be very daunting and at times for some a space where you might not feel as seen. “I guess it got to a point for me where I was like, I don’t see anybody that looks like me running, at marathons or 5k’s and I wanted to change that”, Stephen thinks back to when he first had the idea for 6Run5. He continues “I wasn’t ever treated unfairly by any means, but I was definitely the only black guy in many running spaces”.
Stephen is a part of a select few who notice a problem, then actively choose to find a solution. His solution was creating a running space he wanted to see. Many call this purpose and he has been able to make impact in people’s lives through his choice of saying, yes. Gathering large groups each Wednesday to come out and bet on themselves each time. That’s the vibe he naturally pushes out and I am sure the reason so many have come to love being a part of the 6Run5 group.
This running club also comes with a super intentional mission – supporting black owned businesses. They partner with local businesses in the area by making them their start and end points for running. Giving visibility and also allowing their members to patron these businesses on run days and after. “We currently meet up at The Local Distro, it just made perfect sense to collab with them plus it has great parking”, Stephen shares. They have also held run meetups at Slim + Husky’s and plan to partner with caribbean eatery, Riddim N’ Spice this summer.
From their Black Runners Matter t-shirt, to new partnership with Fleet Feet to exclusively carry their hoodie, 6Run5 wants to constantly ensure their presence is felt. “I know my presence matters, what I do matters”, Stephen reflects as he thinks about the year ahead. “I’m excited to return back to our weekly runs (which kicked off last Wednesday), he declares as they had to hit pause due to covid. Stephen shares, “I don’t want anyone to think there is a certain physique a runner should have, I just want to make running enjoyable”.
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