Photos by Ghetto Run Crew

Ghetto run Crew

You all know what we’re about when it comes to representation in the running communities. We look to not only tell the stories of local runners or running clubs but to also make sure we shine the light on runners spreading positivity amongst their communities internationally as well. We’re always excited to talk to our international runners and this month we’re chatting with fellow runners south of the equator, Ghetto Run Crew, based in Rio De Janeiro. This crew continuously runs through their streets showing what a healthy lifestyle looks like while also looking damn cool doing so. Founded by Junior and Gisele both show what TRUE running culture is all about.

JR: Hi guys, it's great to be here with you! It is a joy to be able to speak about the Movement that broken rules in the world of sports running. I would also like to contribute with some historical facts; Ghetto Run Crew was founded by Jr Negao and in the beginning, it was like something very utopian, and nobody paid attention. Gi Nascimento was the first person impacted and thus the first and only member who has the title of co-founder of honor, because without her support inside and outside the house and in all projects, believing and working hard, Ghetto might not have arrived where it arrived. Gi is the powerful yell that also represents women who come from all the ghettos of Brazil and who must fight a lot to be recognized, respected, to access their spaces.

MSM: Greetings, talking to our international runners we always come with a big bag of excitement because it opens not only our eyes but our readers eyes to a running community that is so much larger than what we know. Let's start with an introduction of the both of you?

JR: It's interesting to start by noting that the Ghetto Run Crew establishes itself as a Movement; much closer to being a Gang/Crew than a Running Crew, although we are also, honorably called the Running Crew, much more a tool at the service of Hip Hop and Rio's ghetto culture than a running group. Do you agree that it is more assertive to think that in the world of running sports we have Traditional Running, the Running Crew Culture, and the Ghetto Run Culture? That's because neither the traditional running universe nor the Running Crew universe was interested in what we were doing on the North side of the city. They said it was something that seemed childish... And that's incredible because we became a counterculture and, in the end, the sport won, because there isn't a place in the world that has street runs and groups running on the street that don't be impacted by the Ghetto Run Crew philosophy and this will always make more people fall in love with running, Axé. Nowadays in Brazil everyone says that they are "going to Corre" instead of saying that they are going to practice running.

Gi: I was born in the ghetto of São Paulo, and I came to live in Rio de Janeiro in 2010 in search of new perspectives in life and professionals, with a lot of fight and focus I was able to settle down very well. It's not easy being a woman from other place, other favela and comes to other favela, the people don't believe in your capacitie, they have shure what you will fall because you are a woman and weak. We started running together in 2013, due to Jr's concern to create an environment where women could be safe to exchange, put their ideas and be whatever they wanted. With that we gathered many interested parties, and we stopped being a place just for women to make us a democratic place for everyone, not only to run, but to have a healthy, safe environment where everyone can be whatever they want to be! And many people just like me fell in love with running, with their neighborhood, with their own stories and with being what they are; so, I see that the movement Ghetto Run Crew has become part of transformation in people's lives, mainly the peripheral ones, blacks, women, and people with less or no access.

MSM: I always mention that lifestyle and fitness can be found through various activities that are way easier and simpler than running, yet many of us choose to run. It's something that we find joy, togetherness, and most of all a form of mental relaxation while running through the streets. For a few minutes and or hours everything tends to disappear. What was it that made you both get into running and when did you both know it was a lifestyle you wanted to follow?

JR: I've always been a runner. Running to catch the bus, running to catch the train, running when the firefights start when the police enter the favela without any preparation, running to catch a pipa, running to play soccer on the hillside... in fact, the act of running is wonderful! you can run barefoot, with cut-off pants and a redesigned shirt, I don't know which sport is more intimate when we think about DIY. But there is a global gentrification of what it is to be a runner, so it is difficult to see myself as a runner, do you know man I am like an occupier of spaces seeking recognition of our history and the Corre is a powerful tool to unite people to strengthen ties and a sense of belonging where the government, the rich classes and the system don't care with knowing what we do and how we do it to be alive and well.

Gi: I started running because of Junior's influence, and the first person to have my life directly transformed was me, because we brought together women like me, fighters, I got to know stories different from mine that influenced me and I realized that I could also positively influence other people, running myself, it gives me confidence, it connects me with people, something far beyond sports. Realizing the power to transform lives, to occupy the streets, places, neighborhoods, cities through Corre, made me certain that a simple act would be a powerful tool that would connect other points such as art, music, culture that are essential for people's education.

MSM: So, I'm curious as to knowing and understating some of your early challenges when you started running. For me I struggled to find my run crew/home early one and struggled to find runners that were a representation of me. People that I could relate to while having those all-important conversations that would help not only to evolve me from a healthy perspective but mentally as well. What were some of those challenges for the both of you like early on?

JR: The ghetto of Rio de Janeiro form a community of many micro communities and all are related in some way. When you are determined to come together to tell our stories correctly there is a huge positive movement for that and running also contributes to overall well-being. Our biggest difficulty was to deconstruct the race thinking of the guys. Our proposal was, and is, the act of running to exchange experiences and not to compete. Another difficulty was making the police understand that running midnight in black in the suburbs does not mean marginality, we go through racism, sexism, and prejudice in different situations.

MSM: What was it like when you worked through some of those early challenges, meeting other runners in the community that helped push you forward from both a mental and physical perspective?

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