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Black-Americans hit the pavement, take up running for fun, fitness

A decade ago you couldn't find many people of color running for fun or in marathons. Now, many count it as a way of life.

A couple dozen African-American women got together at the lakefront for National Runner's Day, for an evening jog. They're apart of the fast growing group “Black Girls Run.” The group started about 6 years ago when two women in Atlanta realized that few black women barely ran, especially in marathons.

Runner Nia Obottete agrees, \"I don't have anyone in my family really who's run a marathon. I think a lot of us don't have people in our family that run actively.\"

Culturally, many say it just wasn't popular. Lifestyles, lack of awareness and hair problems topped the list of concerns. But the trend is changing. According to USA Today, membership has tripled in the National Black Marathoners Association. “Black Men Run” attracted six thousand runners in two years, and “Black Girls Run” is now in 70 cities. In Milwaukee “Black Girls Run” membership has jumped from 800 to 1,500 members in one year.

The health benefits speak for themselves. Tanya Friends lost more than 100 pounds and only needs to take two pills a day instead of 15.

\"We've seen a lot of our family members come down with the typical African-American diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, people are getting sick,\" Friends said,

The women say running has completely shifted their life, many going from couch potatoes to marathon runner.

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