This issue also arose at a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation meeting this year, when James Jackson noted that African American neighborhoods often provide few safe places to run, but ample outlets for fast food and alcohol. While both running and junk food can relieve stress in the short-term, their long-run health effects will differ dramatically. There are other reasons for race differences in running, of course, and the Jay Jennings article touches on everything from hair to role models.
In running, as in other sports, strong stereotypes persist about race and athletic ability. I once shared a starting line laugh with a fellow middle-aged, middle-of-the-pack runner … who happened to be from Kenya. He said he was a slooooow runner but people seemed to make the assumption that all Kenyans must be faster than all Americans. Some were so convinced of his abilities they’d invite him to join the elite runners at the start of the race — which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty horrifying prospect for middle-of-the-pack runners like us.
Speaking of running, I was resplendent in Minnesota colors at this year’s Twin Cities marathon. This brought a few inquiries about exactly where one buys maroon shoes with gold swooshes and aglets. I fibbed that I had them specially commissioned, but these are really just “Nike Livestrong Air Pegasus +28,” which can still be had for about $69 online. Fair warning, though: the kicks make for controversial office attire. Ann Meier, our Director of Graduate Studies, told me that they were not acceptable — and most definitely not acceptable when one is bedecked in a maroon sweater and gold shirt.
(All photos are the model’s own!)