I really enjoyed this chat on some super positive, easy things we can all do to increase diversity in trail running with Tazneem (Taz) Anwar, an Asics Frontrunner, mum of 3, hijab-wearing runner. Taz is @ThisHijabiRuns on Twitter, so do follow her there for fun, inspiring and thought-provoking posts.
Podcast version here or search Wild Ginger Running Taz Anwar in your usual podcast provider.
Taz is a strong, determined woman whose mission is to show that wearing a hijab is not a barrier to being physically active. She wants to encourage women to get outdoors and be active, particularly women who for cultural reasons feel they can’t be active because of how they dress.
Taz started running on a family holiday to get fitter and lose weight after having her three children, then she plucked up the courage to do her first parkrun even though she was worried about how people would view her for wearing the hijab. She was relieved to find they were all very friendly and she is now a regular parkrunner and volunteer marshal.
In October 2019 she ran her first marathon, something she never thought she would do, and now she is discovering the joy of trail running. Whoop! She and I plan to meet in the Peaks this November to make a film to encourage more BAME women in particular to try trails. thishijabiruns.wordpress.com/
Some thoughts from me
If you’ve not known me for long you might think I’m just jumping on the current diversity bandwagon, but I believe that if that bandwagon is a good cause requiring more attention, bloomin’ do the right thing and jump on it!
Throughout my time on Trail Running magazine (2010-2017) I made an effort to include a diverse range of real runners, from old to young, fat to thin, black to white and everything in between, just because I thought it was the right thing to do to encourage everyone regardless of what they looked like and their ability level.
Finding people of colour who ran trails was the hardest part of this. There are so many more white people who run trails and therefore more available for photoshoot dates. We managed it hopefully in a few pics each issue, but still my photoshoot volunteers and contacts were white in the majority. And only one cover that I remember featured a person of colour.
Then for my last photoshoot for a trail running brand in Feb 2020 even though I tried to make it not all white, the people I knew and contacted from different ethnic backgrounds could not make the date. So the shoot ended up all white. This shows how easy it is to let this happen, even when you’re a person who claims to aim for diversity.
So when the news came about the shocking and shameful death of George Floyd in May 2020, it was a wake up call. To help fight racism I decided I must put a lot more effort in to representing a diverse range of trail runners.
I read “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race”. I joined the Black Trail Runners on Facebook. I reached out via social media and got 20+ more potential photoshoot contacts for the future. That list is open for more if you want to get in touch @WildGingerRuns on Insta.
A few people (including people of colour who already run trails) wrote to me to say my aim is wrong, patronising, damaging even. That positive discrimination isn’t the answer. That there aren’t barriers to trail running. But having listened to and read about other people of colour’s experiences, I understand there are barriers that you might not be able see if you are already a confident trail runner of whatever colour. There are also many who do not have the confidence to try an activity (not just running) if they don’t see someone like them doing it first.
So I believe we should show trail running as the welcoming and friendly sport it is by representing as many different types of runners as possible in the media surrounding it. It’s great to increase the volume of photos, videos, interviews and podcasts with people of colour as a way to encourage more people from all backgrounds into this super healthy sport.
So that’s where I’m at on diversity in trail running. I hope you will join me in welcoming and encouraging anyone from any background, any shape, size, age and ability into this exciting, fantastic sport that is so good for both body & mind.