Black History Month | Girls on the Run-Chicago 2024 News | GOTR Chicago


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Black History Month | Girls on the Run-Chicago 2024

Black History Month Girls on the Run-Chicago


This Black History Month, Girls on the Run-Chicago celebrates the extraordinary legacy of Black women runners who paved the way for us all. Because we believe that when she can see it, she can be it! 

Tidye Pickett

Did you know? The first Black woman to compete in the Olympic Games was born right here in Chicago! Tidye Pickett (1914-1986), born and raised in Englewood, made history as she represented the United States in the 80-meter hurdles at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Tidye's journey began on the tracks of Chicago’s Washington Park, where she discovered her passion for running during sponsored picnic races. Her talent was undeniable, earning her numerous prizes and catching the eye of track meet organizers. She broke records and caught the attention of future Olympian John Brooks, who coached her to even greater heights.

After competing in the Olympic Games twice, Tidye pursued a career in education and became a schoolteacher and later a principal in Woodlawn. She remained in that position for 23 years, and after her retirement, the district renamed her school Tidye A. Pickett School as a testament to her dedication and influence.

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Sha'Carri Richardson

2024 Black History Month ShaCarri Richardson

Did you know? The fastest woman in the world is Sha'Carri Richardson! At 23 years old, this American sprinter made headlines by winning the women's 100 meters at the Track and Field World Championships in Budapest, setting an event record with an astonishing time of 10.65 seconds.

While the Girls on the Run-Chicago 5K isn't timed, and we celebrate every pace, we can't help but be in awe of Richardson's dedication and hard work. Her journey serves as a powerful reminder of the incredible heights that can be reached through perseverance and passion.

Her success inspires us all to chase our dreams with unwavering determination.

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Wilma Glodean Rudolph

2024 Black History Month Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Glodean Rudolph made history as the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games. 

At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Rudolph won three gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter individual events and the 4 x 100-meter relay. Her stunning achievements made her acclaimed as the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s. Despite overcoming childhood polio, she soared to become an Olympic champion and international sports icon in track and field. 

But Rudolph's impact extended far beyond the track. As an Olympic champion, she became an inspiration for black and female athletes worldwide. Her successes helped elevate women's track and field in the United States, and she's also revered as a civil rights and women's rights pioneer.

After retiring from competition, Rudolph continued to inspire as an educator and coach. Her legacy lives on in tributes like a U.S. postage stamp, documentary films, and more, ensuring her story inspires generations to come. 

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Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix is the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history, earning an impressive 12 medals from five consecutive Olympic Games. She's also the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history!

But her accolades don't stop there. Felix holds the title of the most decorated athlete, male or female, in World Athletics Championships history with 20 career medals.  Her combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals makes her the overall most decorated athlete in track and field history!

Beyond her incredible athletic achievements, Felix has been a champion for change for women athletes. She, along with other women athletes, advocated for better maternity policies in sports, leading Nike to expand its maternity policy in 2019. 

In 2021, Felix launched her own footwear company, Saysh, designing running shoes specifically for women, and has been recognized as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People multiple times.

Allyson Felix's impact extends far beyond the track, inspiring athletes and advocates worldwide. 

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Marilyn Bevans

2024 Black History Marilyn Bevans

Marilyn Bevans is the first national-class Black woman marathoner and was the first sub-three-hour Black woman marathoner—she’s a true pioneer in the world of marathon running!

Her historic achievements include a second-place finish at the Boston Marathon in 1977, where she crossed the line with an impressive time of 2:51:12. Throughout her career, Bevans continued to break barriers and set records, including being ranked as the 10th fastest female marathoner in the world in 1977.  

Beyond her athletic accomplishments, Bevans has dedicated herself to coaching, inspiring the next generation of runners at Baltimore's Perry Hall High School. Her impact on the sport extends even further, earning her induction into the National Black Marathoners Association's Distance Runner Hall of Fame in 2013.

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Mirna Valerio

2024 Black History Month Mirna Valerio

Cross-country coach, ultrarunner, and author of the empowering memoir "A Beautiful Work in Progress," Mirna Valerio challenges the notion that only thin and white individuals can excel in running.

Though she started running in high school, it was a health scare in 2008 that reignited her passion for the sport. Facing artery inflammation in her early 30s, Valerio embraced exercise as a means of reclaiming her health. Starting with weekly 5K races, and then working her way up to marathons and ultramarathons, she discovered her love for long-distance running, particularly on the trails where she feels most connected to nature and herself.

Valerio began chronicling her journey in her blog, "Fat Girl Running," which she launched in 2012 while training for her first marathon. With more than 11 marathons and 14 ultramarathons under her belt, Mirna Valerio proves that strength, determination, and love for the run transcend size, shape, and race.

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Florence Joyner-Kersee

Flo-Jo was the original Fastest Woman in the World! She held the title until last year (her record was broken by Sha-Carri Richardson, featured above), and also captivated hearts with her dynamic personality and broke runner stereotypes with her style, sporting her signature long nails and brightly colored one-legged track suits. 

Setting world records at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the 100-meter and 200-meter races, Flo-Jo's speed and spirit made her an icon and earned her the title of Fastest Woman in the World. 

Beyond the track, Flo-Jo dedicated herself to empowering youth, founding the Florence Griffith Joyner Youth Foundation to bring track and field opportunities to under-resourced communities.

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Continue Celebrating with Chicago-Area Black-Led Run Groups

All year long, you can follow in the footsteps of the amazing Black women runners we featured by getting involved in these Black-led Chicago run clubs:

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