Club Founders On Empowerment in Women’s Running | International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, we caught up with running club founders Tasha (Black Girls Do Run UK) and Lydia (runtheworldMCR) to share their thoughts on how women’s-only groups empower both members and leaders such as themselves.

As Tasha gears up to take on the 2024 adidas Manchester Marathon  and Lydia sets her sights on new goals,  these two inspirational ladies also share tips with us on how to set up your own grassroots group.

1. How do your clubs empower you and other members?

TASHA: “It has given me the platform to give back to a sport that has given me so much. It warms my heart to know that because of us, black women who never ever saw themselves as being a runner are getting involved and loving it.   

The club also stands firm on its principles of empowering everyday black women to run. It does this through consistency; creating a strong sense of belonging and trust due to our shared culture; and sharing lived experiences, values and goals.”

LYDIA:Setting up runtheworldMCR has taught us to be bold. Anything is possible, and it’s humbling to know we’ve positively impacted so many women’s fitness journeys.

It’s also opened doors for us and we’ve crushed our own fitness goals, for example, by completing the adidas Manchester Marathon and Manchester Half!

Within our community, we empower members by celebrating success stories and showing our women that they can achieve anything. For example, we have a  ‘Woman of the Week incentive where members choose a fellow runner who has achieved something amazing.”

An all women/black running club members taking a group photo

Black Girls Do Run UK was set up in 2019.

2. Tell us how and why each of your groups started…

TASHA: “Black Girls Do Run UK started in 2019 following a strange encounter at a running event. A marshal questioned whether my friend and I were participating in the event despite us wearing running bibs, which started a conversation between us on lack of diversity at running events. A few weeks later the Black Girls Do Run UK was born.”

LYDIA:In 2020, I met a wonderful woman called Becky at a running group. It turned out we lived close to each other, even though we weren’t from the local area where the club was based.

When lockdown hit, we were going out for our daily exercise together and spoke about meeting more like minded women in our own community. One week later, we’d set up an Instagram page for our club and held our first session. It was mostly our own friends who showed up, but soon enough, word spread and we grew.”

Lydia (left) and Becky (right) celebrating after the marathon in 2022.

3. Are there any wider benefits of being part of a women’s only running club?

TASHA: “Yes, many. Firstly, there’s a great sense of motivation and camaraderie, as well as more opportunities to make friends and be social. It also creates a safe space for women who may feel uneasy running by themselves, or who lack confidence in their running ability. Finally, women’s only running means we are more likely to talk about issues which affect us and to raise new ideas. For our club specifically, we can share thoughts and advice on things like running with afro hair, along with many others.”

Black Girls Do Run UK founder Tasha Thompson.

LYDIA:I think that the number one benefit is friendship opportunities. Becky and I are prime examples. We’ve become so close and been there for each other on our wedding days and other life events (Becky actually just welcomed baby Ruby to the world!) We’ve also seen club members become more confident and try new activities with each other – weight lifting, aerial yoga and open water swimming to name a few!”

4. Do you have any tips for other women thinking about starting a women-only running club or group?

TASHA: “Number one would be to go for it! Sometimes as women, we are told that we can’t or shouldn’t do certain things. However, starting a club could open many doors and increase your confidence.

You should also start small and be consistent, punctual and reliable. Your members will respect you for this and you’ll build a good reputation.

My next tip would be to use women who you already have around you, even if it’s just one. We are so much stronger together, and by having support, you can use your time and energy on the club effectively.

I also recommend that you affiliate your club with England Athletics. They offer support, free sources and more.

Finally, ensure everyone feels welcome and comfortable. Talk to your members, listen to feedback.”

LYDIA: “Firstly, believe it can happen! We conceived our idea out on a run and just one week later, it turned into a reality.

That being said, do it for the right reasons. Becky and I are passionate about women’s health and the barriers women can face to staying active. It’s that passion which keeps us going. 

We’d also encourage women thinking of starting a women’s group to reach out to similar organisations for a chat and support. We have hugely benefited from our relationships with others in the fitness and running space. 

It’s also important that your group is accessible for all. Have groups of various speeds as well as a lead and a tail runner so no one gets left behind. For maximum inclusion, you can also create routes that are loops or ‘out and back’.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Volunteers are amazing and you may be surprised how many there are out there.”


Thank you both for sharing your thoughts and advice this International Women’s Day. See you at the event Tasha, and Lydia, we’ll catch you next year!