Over the past couple of years, we’ve crossed many runners, some big, some small, some consistent and most of all inspiring. We’ve met some awesome runners along the way, some of which have founded run clubs while forging new friendships and relationships not only amongst themselves as runners but also within the neighborhoods that they run in. This month we pop into Baltimore as we chat with Rob Jackson founder of Baltimore’s Riot Squad Running, a runner and as he would say “just a cool guy with a camera.
MSM: Welcome to Mid Strike my brother. We always like to chat it up with runners that have started run groups in their communities, but we’ll get to that later. Looking from afar I get that leader by example vibe from you. But let's start with the main question. What was it that made you get into running and why?
Rob: For me I ran when I served in the Army from 2000-2006 but I hated it because I was forced to do it. I didn't begin running on my own until 2015 just to deal with stress & anxiety and trying to be healthy.
MSM: Those early stages of running tend to be very lonely, lots of solo runs. It's usually a feeling out process as we work through runs trying to find that right vibe and formula for ourselves. What were some of your feelings early on as a new runner in your community?
Rob: Some of my early feelings as a new runner was trying to accept, I wasn’t the same runner I was back in the military (I hated running back then but I was a lot faster and better at it).
MSM: As you dove deeper into the rabbit hole with road racing, especially distance running, were you still in love with it? Personally, I hated it (lol), but I was always drawn back for more. What were your early race experiences like?
Rob: My 1st official race was a 5K with the Wounded Warrior Project, a service organization to assist veterans who were injured during their time in service. The 5k was a “training “run leading up to me running my 1st half marathon later that year. I absolutely loved my 1str race and was quick to show off my race medal lol.
MSM: One of the biggest challenges for us, especially black men, is to run while black. The plus about being black while running in the Baltimore area is the representation that comes with it. Seeing recognizable faces in our communities is essentially all we need to see to get our health in order. What have been some of the feelings you’ve received running through your neighborhoods?
Rob: What’s crazy is whenever I run through any neighborhood, people always speak and show love, I probably wouldn’t receive the same love if I was just walking or passing through these same neighborhoods. When I plan routes for our group, I am intentional to make sure I run through certain neighborhoods so ppl can see black runners and take non-black runners through neighborhoods and parts of towns they wouldn’t go to.
MSM: So, we went through your why and when your running/fitness journey began. What have been some of the most memorable races and moments that you’ve experienced over the years, what are the ones that stand out the most?
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