Abeo Powder Co-Founder of trailblazhers run co. 

Photos by Frances Ramirez

There's a saying that women make the world go round, especially black woman. As hard as they have to work to make their voices known they are the driving force behind so many cultural and seismic changes that we see daily in our everyday lives from an up-front point of view and also behind the scenes. The ones that we are used to seeing are those that are obviously in the media, mainstream media but there are those everyday women in the shadows working locally to create a better community. One of those people that is doing just that is Abeo Powder co-founder of TrailblazHers Run Co. A Boston based running group that is changing the narrative of what true running culture looks like something that is very much so needed in the Boston area because if you’ve ever been to Boston, YOU KNOW that it’s not a place for us. 

MSM: I want to start by saying that you are a very interesting/cool person with a vibe that’s set apart from others, I think we’re going to be here a while (lol), let’s start with the obvious, running. Was running a lifestyle for you? When did running find you?

Abeo: Thank you so much for that opening, wow. I’m blushing! So, with running, it has always been a part of my life, manifesting in different ways at different seasons and phases of my life.

I was the kid on the playground who ‘wanted’ to be it so I can test my speed. I loved watching track & field with my dad, especially around the Olympics. I was a sprinter in high school, running mostly the 100M and 200M and then the 400M in my senior year. After high school, I didn’t sprint at the collegiate level, but knew I wanted to keep running in my life. I randomly signed for a 5K in 2011 and that was it. After numerous 5K’s, I trained for my first half marathon on my own and it was after that I realized something was missing: community. While running has been ingrained in me from the very beginning, it didn’t truly find me until I found community in 2015.

MSM: As you made your way into the running culture what was the race or the point that you knew this was something that you wanted to do. When it comes to fitness, we can all do other levels of fitness work. Running isn’t something that is known as being easy, yet it can be so rewarding. When did you know that this was indeed going to be part of your life? 

Abeo: I knew that running was going to be part of my life when I realized that these miles meant more than tending to my physical wellness. When learned that for me, my mental health is directly correlated to my physical well-being, when I realized the power that running must create and inspire community, a community that encourages and challenges others to be their best self on and off the pavement, I knew that running would be a major part of who I am and who I become.

MSM: As you grew into the world of racing, I’m sure that led to marathons and I see that you are indeed 6-star chasing. What have been some of your favorite races in the past that have stood out? Also, marathoning isn’t for the faint of heart, when did you know that you wanted to tackle that first one, most of all what was the feeling when you finished?

Abeo: My first marathon is still among one of my favorites, Chicago Marathon! Granted it was an unusually warm day when I ran in 2017 (therefore facing challenges I had not anticipated), it was still a party from start to finish! Running through different neighborhoods, witnessing a range of cultural experiences was something to remember and revel in!  Another favorite has been the New York City Marathon! Between bridge running, the energy in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Central Park, it’s a race that I know I’ll run multiple times in my life!

MSM: When it comes to running and life, they kind of go hand and hand. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a process and marathon and how we go about our day to day. For me running has helped me to slow many things down regarding to how we deal with situations. How has running helped you through the years when it comes to dealing with life overall. 

Abeo: The life lessons running has taught me have been transformative and grounding. Running has allowed me to build and strengthen the relationship I have with trust, learning to trusting myself more; knowing when to push, when to pause and ultimately following my intuition. Running has encouraged a reframe on my relationship with time and timelines; my race, my pace, my journey is my journey.

MSM: What was running like for you overall at the very beginning. For me I knew nothing about running/marathoning. Being from NYC I only went with what I knew, everyone runs in Central or Prospect Park. So, when I started running what I saw didn’t reflect what I knew or experienced. I saw 85% white runners because I essentially ran in their area because I assumed that’s where all runners went. I could not relate to any of those crews, nor could they understand my struggles which led to not having a connection. As you got started what were some of the issues you faced early on?

Abeo: My first time running in community with others was at a Nike Run Club session on Newbury St. I was fortunate to see pacers and runners who looked like me but were still very much in the minority. Prior to finding community, running solo around Boston a Black woman felt very alienating at times. Stares from those who didn’t look like me encouraged me to keep showing up. Stares from those who looked like me encouraged me to be the representation we need, open dialogue, and dismantle stereotypes we’ve collectively internalized.

MSM: Not having runners we can relate to early on is a bit disheartening, but the other part is running through neighborhoods which I like to call the no go zone. As a black runner I know in the back of my mind there are routes you don’t run depending on the time of day. For black men we’re almost always looking over our shoulders, always having a target on our backs so I make sure not to navigate those areas. Is this the same for you?

Abeo: As a black woman who runs, my experience and its relationship to safety is complex. As a black person who runs, I can be perceived as a threat depending on where I run. As a woman who runs, my safety can be jeopardized based on when I run and what I’m wearing while I run.

MSM: Running while Black (plug-read it if you haven’t) by Alison Desir. Being a black man in a predominately white sport is a fight. Being a black man in America is even worse BUT to be a black woman in the running and in America is more difficult. Black women must fight so hard to simply be heard, to be taken seriously, to be seen as equal. Give our readers a few of your thoughts regarding this and some of the things that you’ve constantly had to fight for. 

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