TRiBe RuN: Miami’s run scene has a new kid on the block

TRiBe RuN: Miami’s run scene has a new kid on the block

by Ashley Toussaint

Ashley Toussaint and Asrielle co-founders of Miami’s new black run club TRiBe at Charles Hadley Park in Liberty City, Miami.

After spending most of 2020 cooped up inside due to the COVID lockdown, I began to deeply miss the days of running the streets of Brooklyn with my brothers from Black Men Run New York City. In July of 2019, after spending ten years in Brooklyn, I made the move back home to Miami, Florida. I knew that it was going to be difficult to find a Black running community as there’s no place like New York City when it comes to representation in the run world.

On any given Sunday, you can find two dozen black men, of all ages, shapes, shades and walks of life, running loops around Prospect Park. Once a month we hit the streets of Brooklyn, intentionally running in areas that most people wouldn’t. We hit up Crown Heights, Brownsville, East New York, and Bed-Stuy. Dubbed as “Hood Runs”, I looked forward to these, in some ways more than races. I felt like a celebrity running through neighborhoods where our people reside. The hood loved us and embraced us. They cheered us on from the corners, the project windows, and sometimes ran alongside us. The hood is so authentic and that’s why I love it. 

Black Men Run New York City huddling at the end of a Sunday run in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

After creating a true culture of running in the neighborhood, I wanted to build that same culture in the streets that I grew up in back in Miami.

I grew up in the neighborhoods of Allapattah, Liberty City, and Little Haiti. Many of my schoolmates were also from Brownsville, a neighborhood just to the west of my own. Growing up, these communities were plagued with violence, poverty, drugs, and overpolicing. These were places where the sun shined, but were still hidden in the shadows of Miami’s glitz and glamour. I wanted to bring light and a greater appreciation to the people in my community like I was able to do in Brooklyn. 

In September of 2020, I met a young lady named Alexis. We were both a part of a bicycle ride hosted by Miami largest Black bicycle club, Breaking the Cycle. It was nearly 200 riders there, most of whom were Black like us. At the ride, Alexis and I both agreed that it would be dope if we could have a large Black run club in Miami. It had been my vision for years to do just that. I had already been hosting Black neighborhood runs during the Miami Marathon Weekend, visiting runners to come to Liberty City, Little Haiti, and Overtown. Along my runs, I always took time to talk about the history of the neighborhoods which in my eyes gave dignity and pride to the communities instead of dwelling on the struggles. 

Alexis later introduced me to Asrielle, another Miami-native and former track star at the University of Miami. Though Alexis is just getting into running, she has a great social network as she hosts some of the dopest social events in South Florida through her company, SocialXchange Miami. In 2017 I founded The Running Edge, which focuses on building community through running and fitness. So we all brought our talents and passion together to form TRiBe RuN

Each Saturday, we gather for runs with a focus on historically Black neighborhoods of Miami and South Florida. Most people who visit Miami, are only familiar with South Beach. But Miami has a very rich history. Though the city is known for its Latin influence, there’s so much more to the 3-0-5. Escaped slaves ran away from Alabama and Georgia during the 1800s, built alliances and communities with the Native Americans in Florida to form what we today know as the Seminoles. Some went as far south as present-day Miami and ended up reaching the free islands of the British-owned Bahamas. During the late 1800s, Bahamians were some of the earliest settlers of Miami and they lived near Coconut Grove and Overtown; which at one time was called Colored Town. 

TRiBe run hosts runs each week in various historically black neighborhoods in Miami. This is the crew running through Liberty Square Housing Projects, known to Miami locals as the “Pork ‘n Beans.”

During our Saturday runs, we don’t just run and sweat. Our runs are typically just over 3 miles and we create the routes. We’re intentional about making sure that we honor the area’s historic sites or landmarks along the routes.

In many cases, we can recall the history because we run in the communities that we grew up in; and in some cases still reside in. And though many people think that we only allow runners to participate, we also have walking groups. We welcome all levels. For us, it’s about building a community around fitness and health. Six months in, we’re still growing. We are now seeing upwards of 30 participants at our runs. I’d love to see 100 people come out each week. That would be amazing.  

Overtown is one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods, home to one of the cities earliest black communities. TRiBe running down 14th Street with the encroachment of skyscrapers in the background.

TRiBE RuN May 2021

Saturday, May 1st | 1-2-3 Smoothies, 2700 S. University Dr., Miramar, FL

Saturday, May 8th | Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Ter, Little Haiti, Miami, FL

Saturday, May 15th | North Miami Sr. High, 13110 NE 8th Ave, North Miami, FL

Saturday, May 22nd | Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Ter, Little Haiti, Miami, FL

Saturday, May 29th | Smoothie Express, 9440 NE 2nd Ave, Miami Shores, FL

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