Like many women, Belinda Johnson realized that after she turned 40 she was finding it harder to keep her health in check. A fitness trainer recommended she consider jogging or running. But, getting into the sport wasn’t easy.

“I could only run for 30 seconds until I was out of breath,” Belinda says.

Some of us would toss in the towel, but not Belinda. She says she loves a good challenge!

Belinda slowly worked on extending the distance she could run, tackling a 5k, then an 10k, and then a half marathon. In fact, the 2020 Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic will be her 10th half marathon!

It was during a Publix Gasparilla race event that Belinda learned of Black Girls RUN!, a national organization that encourages African-American women to live healthier lifestyles through walking, jogging and running.

In 2009, Black Girls RUN! was created in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. BGR serves as a fitness resource for runners, and also provides tips and commentary on staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Belinda, who is now an active member of BGR says, “It’s so amazing to be part of a group of women that’s positive, that are trying to live a more healthy lifestyle so we can combat obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure cholesterol issues that are in our community. We have to do something about it.”

With Black Girls RUN! chapters across the country, Belinda, who loves to travel, never goes without someone to join her for a run. That includes her next trip to Vancouver, in May, where she’ll commemorate her 55th birthday by running her first marathon.

If you’re interested in Black Girls RUN! check out the national website or connect with the local chapter on Facebook.