Some runners are born and some runners are made. In the case of Jahira Davis, she is definitely the former. Back in 2018, I founded The Running Edge Youth, a youth run club in Brooklyn. The very first runner was Jahira. She was was just 11 years old. I had become good friends with her parents Richard and Lois Davis, soon-to-be co-founders of The Running Edge Youth had been looking for a new track club for their daughter.
Jahira, at the time was running for a local club, but her parents were not happy with the program. The culture, the coaching and love for the athletes was not there. Jahira had so much potential and promise and it was in risk of being overlooked. Around that same time, I was looking to launch a youth run program. Richard, Jahira’s father came to me on several occasions, “Coach, I need to find a place for Jahira. I am not happy with what’s going on with her current team. The coach is in it for the wrong reasons.” One day after a run, he and I got together and decided to start The Running Edge Youth. It would be dedicated to providing the fundamentals of running for young people, with an emphasis on developing the entire child.
When we developed the program, it was Jahira who inspired our talks. We wanted to cultivate young runners, especially girls, who had so much natural talent, but too often fell through the cracks. The new season was coming around and instead of going to her previous track club, she began to train with her father. He took her to his old stomping grounds, the trails of Prospect Park. Saturdays mornings, Jahira got up with her father and they ran together. Richard beamed with pride, as she kept up. She was getting stronger with each run. Her mile pace was getting faster. The annual Colgate Women’s Games was just a few weeks away. And she was getting prepared.
This year, it would be different, she would run under a new club, The Running Edge Youth. When she lined up, Jahira was going to be wearing a different uniform, with a different mindset. And just like that, race day was upon us. Jahira was about to make history as the first ever youth runner of The Running Edge. Her race was the 800 meters, the same race that her father ran for so many years. It could not have been more fitting. Nerves ran through her entire body. She was focused and ready to set a new path. Lined up against her old teammates, it was going to be a great race. The gun sounded… Jahira and two dozen or so other runners took off. She was running against the top runners in the New York City and surrounding areas. Runners from as far as Boston and Philadelphia came just to be a part of the magic. It was a new beginning.
From that race forward, Jahira continued to improve. That same month she ran a personal best of 7:13 in the Jingle Bell Jog in Central Park; just a few seconds from going under 7 minute per mile. Not bad for an 11 year old, who had been running for just over 1 year. But as I mentioned earlier, she was born to run. With each passing season, Jahira’s limbs began to stretch. With long legs like her father and a beautiful stride that was never taught to her. Once her legs get rolling, she can cover a lot of ground very quickly. It was only going to be a matter of time before Jahira hit her stride. But she needed to be pushed.
In the spring of 2019 The Running Edge Youth became that thing that she needed. She needed a team to keep her accountable and motivated. Sure enough, a few other young runners, Sam, Drew, Lizzy, Amira and Ella formed a team around her, and they began to practice and push each other. It was all coming together for Jahira and her young run crew. By the end of the 2019 run season, she had another year of experience, along with some minor injuries and growing pains, but Jahira’s a fighter and wasn’t going to let a little discomfort keep her down. The indoor season was approaching. This was going to be the season. And then a strange virus took the world by storm. It started in China, worked it’s way to Europe and before you know it, a few cases had hit New York City. It was called COVID-19 and it was something no one had ever experienced. The city was placed on lockdown and the running season was over before it even started. Quarantine was now the new norm and Jahira was struggling. Her passion for being outside, with friends and running came to an abrupt end. She began to experience anxiety and her training had come to a holt. New York City saw some of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks of the year. After months of being sheltered-in, the city slowly come back and so did Jahira.
Last month she ran her first 5K race since the pandemic. She is back to practicing, but nothing compares to being with her teammates and competing in races. The Running Edge Youth’s first lady has returned. It was only a matter of time. After all, the girl was simply born to run.