RUNGRL Launch: The Future of Running is Black and Female

Photo: Maya Aridi

Photo: Maya Aridi

by RUNGRL Staff

After months of planning and weeks of teasing, the RUNGRL platform was officially launched on April 27. The event kicked off with RUNGRL’s day-one supporters and friends. Of course, as with any ‘lit’ thing RUNGRL does, a celebration was in order.

The launch took place at Steadfast Supply, a woman-owned, SW D.C. conceptual retail store with a mission to support independent brands and designers from around the country. The store’s stylish and chill atmosphere provided the perfect vibes for the celebration.

Attendees were greeted with mini swag bags containing goodies and discounts from event partners and a preview of new RUNGRL merch. Participants mingled and got hands-on as they shared favorite running experiences, who inspires them to run and more.

Photo: Sha'Neal Jourdan

Photo: Sha'Neal Jourdan

Introducing RUNGRL

“As Black women runners, our spectrum of stories were not told, visible or celebrated in the distance running community.”

“Eight months ago, we came together because we saw a gap in the narrative around who is ‘really’ a distance runner,” Ashlee Lawson, co-founder and CEO, announced to the group by way of introduction. “As Black women runners, our spectrum of stories were not told, visible or celebrated in the distance running community,” said Jasmine Nesi, co-founder and COO. “So, like the ambitious women that we are, we sought to change this narrative of what it means to be a runner and create the space we wish existed,” said Stephani Franklin, co-founder and chief brand officer.

Each of the founders went on to explain what went into launching this platform and detailed why RUNGRL is here—to make space for Black women distance runners.

RUNGRL Training

The 'RUNGRL 6', RUNGRL's first training program participants. Photo: Maya Aridi

The 'RUNGRL 6', RUNGRL's first training program participants. Photo: Maya Aridi

Next, the participants of the National Women’s Half Marathon Training Program were introduced, known as the “RUNGRL 6”.

“Back in February, we started with a ‘12 Weeks, 12 Women, 12 Wins’-themed training program leading up to the National Women’s Half Marathon, which takes place on Sunday,” said Natalie, co-founder and chief sponsorship officer.

Each training program participant briefly shared her individual story. From the ‘comeback queen’ who was returning from an injury, to the ‘busy mom’ making it happen every day and the woman learning to fall in love with running again, each had a unique perspective and reason for “getting these miles.”

Next, each RUNGRL shared goals for the coming race. With varying skill levels, time goals ranged from “sub-2:00” to “I’m hoping to do less than three hours this time.” By putting it all out there and making themselves accountable, it made things all the more real for the impending challenge.


RUNGRL is especially grateful to the friends and partners who showed RUNGRL love on such a big night. “We absolutely couldn’t have done it without you!” said Dominique Burton, co-founder and chief partnerships officer.

Shout outs again to for hosting and to all of the amazing partners for keeping the swag bags swaggy and making the event pop! Big ups to Under Armour, Cava for the eats, Dio Wine Bar for their all-natural wine, Gelat’OH! for the delicious samples,  Penny Brew for the coffee samples, Sip City for their samples and swag, Goûter for the premium Stretch Tonics with tumeric, Ace Beverage for the brews, Pixelated for the swanky photo booth setup, and Franky J for spinning the tunes.  

These outstanding partners also provided special discounts to the RUNGRL tribe:

Finally, it truly takes a village to launch a movement. RUNGRL thanks everyone who played a supporting role: Carolina Espinal, Aaron Allen, Mary Elizabeth Creative, Kittrell Henderson, Maya Aridi, Sha’Neal Jourdan, Ideas Blossom, From Jaques With Love, Matt Green, Clif Light, Corey Redden, Denaz Green, Reese Bland and the RUNGRL 6.

It was such a special evening, the perfect way to celebrate a beautiful new beginning!

Check out photos from this amazing event, and view the full photo album on our RUNGRL Facebook page.