More Than Runnin in the UK
More than Runnin run club is a UK based run club founded by Eric Morgan, Brian Watson-Haynes, and Tafari Bernard. If you’ve seen these brothers you can see that they are some of the most real brothers you will meet or come across in the run community as they bring accountability, challenges and hospitality on each run they embark on. Not only do they focus on running but they also challenge themselves and their teammates physically and mentally to push their threshold. There’s a good chance if you’ve been running in the streets of West Kensington, West London there’s a good chance you’ve come across these good brothers on their runs. What we love to do here at Mid Strike Magazine is to highlight all run crews large or small, let’s get to know Eric, Brian and Tafari, The More Than Runnin crew.
MSM: More than Runnin, what I like about this is that it’s very simple. As the goal that you all strive for is to bring focus and health to your community through all aspects of fitness and life. How did you all meet to form More Than Runnin?
Eric: I started running consistently 195 weeks age, I count in weeks because it’s easier to hold yourself accountable. Five months into the journey, Tafari jumped on board.
Tafari: Well I did not exactly jump on board; it took me a few months to say I would join you on a run. Eric was asking people locally to run with him and people didn’t turn up and I said to myself if I say I’s going to run with him, I have to turn up. Thursday evening was free for me and we decided to run locally from then. We have been running every Thursday evening.
Eric: I knew Tafari as he has been my neighbor for as long as I can remember. I am glad he took up the challenge, as it was nice to have someone else to run with from the community. Which was the birth of Thursday night running.
Brian: I too knew both Eric and Tafari from the community and regularly saw them on their weekly runs and doing other kinds of training in the area. After a while, I jumped on Thursday running. I was determined to push through my comfort zone and quickly found two great running partners.
Tafari: I remember Brain saying to me that he was thinking of running on a Thursday, since he started he hasn’t stopped.
Eric: Come to think of it I remember all those years ago Brian coming into the park behind my house where I use to do my TRX and battle rope workout. He seemed curious and obviously, it caught the cat, and since has been involved it has enhanced the movement. Which become MORETHANRUNNIN (MTR).
We had Thursday night running on lock already which is a 10K run through the streets of West London. But we wanted to do something for the community so decided to start Sunday running club in a local park called South Park in January 2020. Which has become a huge success-reaching participants of up to 25 people from the local community.
These brothers all reside in the UK but also have international backgrounds as Eric and his family resides from Ghana and Greneda, Tafari carries both Grenadian and Jamaican decent and Killa from Guyana.
MSM: What sparked you all to get into running? Was fitness something that was always consistent with the group?
Eric: I have always been into sport from an early age, playing rugby, athletics taekwondo and gym during my school life. It’s not until I had my second seizure that I decided to get into running as exercise boosts your immune system and as they say the rest is history.
Brian: I have never been into fitness or training; I have never been to a gym and I never even ran for the bus. I have a saying (should’ve left earlier). When I got to my 30s, I realized my metabolism had slowed down and had to do something for my all-round fitness and just like that I got the bug.
Tafari: To tell the truth, I don’t know what the initial spark was, but it was an accumulation of things. I played sports and always had an interest in fitness but never thought I would see myself as a runner.
MSM: You all seem to have a real sense of the communities you represent in Fulham. Do you feel as if you’re all breaking down the barriers in your community for what runners look like or represent? Essentially MTR is opening up doors for people of color to see people that look like them.
Brian: Personally, I did not see barriers when running, more a stigma attached to running essentially for me it’s all about health and fitness and enjoying yourself while doing it. In addition, yes, it is great that not only other Black people not only in my community but through my Instagram channel can see me representing them. I am shocked by the number of messages I get from friends and strangers alike encouraging me on.
Eric: Essentially running is for everyone and the community I live in is the kind of place that represents that. The whole community has been affected by some sort of health issues from cancers to diabetes so of course I am happy to represent my culture and hopefully I can spark something in everyone’s brains, to take their health seriously as I say, “HEALTH IS WEALTH”.
MSM: What I can relate to is the vibe, there’s what I like to call commercial runners, then runners that are just out there and then there are those that understand the struggles, the fights, the history and the real reasons as to why it’s a must to represent our culture correctly. Is this something that you feel running through your neighborhoods?
Killa: I don’t see myself as a typical runner and I think that’s where my whole vibe comes from mainly. Half the time as you might see watching our vibes, we are having fun. I am a postman in my community and have been for 20 years. When I am running around the area people only have good things to say and see have seen me as a hard-working parent still getting it done.
Eric: I was born in Hammersmith Hospital in West London and have lived in West Kensington since 1982, before that in Fulham. I am in the community and since I‘ve been running the community has only had nothing but positive messages on how I have inspired them, again another motto I say is “be inspired or be inspiring”.
Tafari: I just feel that as long as I represent myself correctly, my culture will be represented correctly. I run with a Grenada football shirt most of the time and that was a key motivator for me on certain cold nights. I didn’t want to stop in my shirt.
MSM: Strength in numbers is a must when it comes to wanting to make a change and a difference in the community, but this is also a bond between your run brothers. How do you all remain consistent in pushing each other?
Eric: I have had the pleasure of running with a lot of different people including my children which has made me particularly proud. Anyone can run with me and I say it to everyone. I say running can literally change your life. Having known Brian and Taf for many years, it was good for us to build and support others in our community to get healthier. This was what brought about the Sunday Running club where having that brotherhood, people were able to see three positive men that they could relate to one way or another. With Brian being a post man and me being an Electrician/PT who works locally the community where people are already familiar with us and made it easier for them to join the movement.
Brain: From the first day I started running I learned (without realising it) to talk and run at the same time which helped because at times I forgot I was running. This was made easier having the brotherhood and the strong relationship already established from the Thursday night running. We always push each other like to say “slow down but don’t stop” no matter how slow we keep going and someone will be with you, so no person is left behind.
Tafari: For true, it is the talk during the runs, it’s easy to stay focused and motivated, especially when new people join on a Thursday or Sunday. The energy is high, and nobody is left behind.
MSM: “Staying consistent and staying on your purpose” are some of the words that MTR stands by. Give our readers a few examples of the MTR model and how you implement the consistency of those words to your other team members as well as new members.
Brain: I think it takes a certain mind-set to stay consistent at anything. I find that we all bounce off each other and I find it easy to stand by the words because we do the work. We run motivate and edit are own videos and I think the work speaks for itself. “we oucheeeeeea”
Eric: Knowing we are motivating others to take their health more seriously helps me to motivate not only myself but the MTR family. Though I am my own worst and best critic, I do feel that when your alone in your own thoughts you are the one holding yourself accountable so lying to yourself will only hurt you not anyone else. With our videos, we are able to document our journey to help others stay on the job, stay consistent, trust the process and everything will fall into place. We all have to understand our why to overcome anything.
Tafari: I try to stay consistent and with support from the brotherhood, it helps me put the ‘T’ in consistency. I know why I run and the benefits I get from running, and I can only explain them to new members and hope they stay consistent and feel the same benefits that I feel. Consistency is key.
MSM: For our readers take us through the MTR challenge, specifically what the challenge has entailed and its purpose for those that chose to accept the challenge and get it done.
Eric: We were doing 50 burpees a day until we could get to 100 burpees a day by increasing them by 10 every two weeks but due to us being struck down with Covid we were forced to stop. Then on my birthday my partner @fittnessqueenab suggested we do a challenge to do 50 burpees and 5k every day until Christmas. Of course, all of our participants can’t do 50 burpees, so some were doing 5 and then increasing them to 20 per day. @jocose_j an MTR star.
MSM: You guys are very consistent when it comes to getting your daily runs in. As a runner, I call this pressure by example. We see each other getting the miles in which essentially leads to the person watching wanting to get up to take care of business. What I enjoy most about MTR is no matter the time you all make time to get it done. What is it that drives all of you to get it done?
Brian: It’s quite simple for me, since I got the running bug my legs call for a run regularly and after every run, I feel better for it. Making the time sometimes gets tight, especially at times during this challenge but as I said before you got to do the work. This is my first full year from January to January running and due to this challenge, it looks like I will hit the 1000kms for the year. I run with Eric a lot and it definitely helps when you have some to run with although I think to be a runner you also have to like running.
Eric: Every Monday for the last 195 weeks I have been working and making time sometimes at 4:30/5am to fit the runs in before work. As well as that, I do videos which we now call intros which act as an introduction to the video to come of the run. I picked Monday as I know everyone hates Monday mornings and to me it’s a way of bringing a little joy/madness to Monday morning. I enjoy running a lot, it helps me clear my mind, plus the health and wellness benefit speak for themselves which creates the energy or as I says lots of Vibrant Energy (Love).
Tafari: Sometimes I think to myself “why run” but I remember how I feel the next day. Depending on the distance, I may wake up with sore legs, but I feel refreshed it’s the energy. I’ve been running for 3 and half years now and in that time I have made other decisions that I’ve reaped the benefits of and I put that down to running. I know my journey is not over and running on a consistent basis will allow me to see and accept changes I need to make.
MSM: Kuntes Thoughts are some of the most honest thoughts we will hear. Raw honesty which at times is what we need to hear. Especially when it comes to our health and wellness. I recently saw a video where you mentioned your health is your responsibility. Where the goal was to live a healthy life on your terms and not through doctors or medicines etc. For our readers, explain why this is so important.
It’s funny because Kuntes thoughts were inspired by my nephew who writes on his Instagram called @busyinwonder where he writes poetry and posts it every so often. You know I just got inspired by my nephew and I thought let me write something down on paper as I’m always talking about stuff. After about 3-weeks of posting things that I wrote down & posted it on my Instagram page as the start of Kuntes Thoughts. It was by accident that my brain was editing the videos that week, for Thursday night running.
I used to do longer videos but never post them I wasn’t confident as I didn’t think it’s what the people wanted to hear, I spoke for a long time about relevant stuff going on in the world, things that have gone on in the past, things that I think are important and just my perspective on life. Once he saw this, he encouraged me basically to do it. Post this as my Kuntes thoughts because he saw it as Kuntes thoughts live in action whilst running and talking which became Kuntes thoughts as you know it now. Since then, I’ve been posting Kuntes thoughts weekly.
I’m not sure how many weeks I’ve been doing it now, but like some of the things you mentioned, maybe hard-hitting or maybe some things, maybe things people don’t want to hear. Sometimes things are necessary to hear in life as life is not a bed of roses it’s not always good times, we all have bad or real-life experiences so, it’s important to express in times like these as you never know whom they could help in their lives. Artists do it through music, other people do it through poetry, some do it through art, this is the expression of oneself. This is just my expression of how I feel and my perspective on life it’s not anyone else’s perspective it’s just my perspective and if people agree cool, if they don’t that’s fine we can agree to disagree but as NWA always said to me since I started listening to hip-hop music in 1987, Express Yourself!
MSM: Representation in the run community is something we all struggle with here in the states, where running or the look of a runner is thought to be white, slim and fit. Yet we come in all shapes, sizes, and skin colors. The sport of running is diverse. Do you find that you face these same issues and challenges with MTR?
Eric: Everyone has their perceptions about running but honestly in the race events I have seen all different shapes, sizes, races and religions competing. Everyone has to represent and they have to take the step, if you don’t try you will never know you like to do something. Once I am out running with my music, I am in another world, which I didn’t know existed until I was forced to take my health seriously.
Brain: When I am out running, I see myself as a runner and haven’t had an unpleasant experience to date whilst out on a run, like I said earlier I think there is a stigma towards running where a lot of people just don’t see running as on option, something I hope I am doing my part to change.
Tafari: I don’t watch any face when I am doing my thing. Running is for everyone if it’s something anybody wants to pick up. I haven’t faced no issues while running my only issue is standing around before race getting cold.
MSM: Where do you all see MTR growing in the future not only for you all but also the run community.
Eric: We see MTR growing organically as it has done thus far. The more we stay consistent, the more the community will want to participate. We do have plans for MTR’s growth, but we don’t want to ruin the story. But we will say keep your eyes peeled as there is definitely more in store.
Brian: I just hope we can keep reaching more and more people and sending the good vibes on.
Tafari: I see MTR growing into anything we want it to in the future is in our hands and MTR’s future in the running community will be bright.
MSM: For runners in the area that are interested in getting a run in for MTR, where can they meet up?
Eric: Anyone can come to our Sunday running club in Southpark, Fulham SW6 every Sunday at 10 am. Otherwise, they can contact us at @morethanrunnin for any other information. We are always running and happy to run with others.
Knowing we are motivating others to take their health more seriously helps me to motivate not only myself but the MTR family.
MSM: Any last words for our readers?
MTR: More than Runnin, it’s a movement. We Oucheea, lightwork.