Meet brother Serghino Rene; one of 4 vice-captains for Black Men Run’s Boston chapter. His running journey has taken him from his high school track team to his college track team to the brotherhood of Black Men Run. Being a very introverted kid, the track team helped him to break out of his shell. His confidence grew from there. Serghino was also the captain of his college track team.
HOW DID YOU START RUNNING?
I fell into running by accident. I am a first generation American born of Haitian parents. Haitian parents can be extremely strict. It was church and school for me. There is very little socializing. I love what the Haitian culture has given me. But feeling the confines of that, when I got the opportunity to join my high school track team, make friends, socialize – it was very different for me. I took advantage of the opportunity to socialize with my classmates outside of the classroom. If it weren’t for running, I don’t know if I would be as social as I am now.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO BLACK MEN RUN BOSTON?
I joined Black Men Run-Boston during the outbreak of the 2020 Covid pandemic which is still with us. I was introduced to this brotherhood by an old college friend and current vice-captain, Jeff Joseph. I ran with BMR in their second week of existence. Joseph reached out to me during the pandemic and mentioned that he and current captain, Jeff Davis, were looking to start a Boston chapter of Black Men Run. I did let them know that I would join them if it was a safe space as I am an openly proud gay man. I could only join if it was a unit that could support me and not stigmatize me. Jeff assured me that the group would be a safe space. The leadership set the tone for what the culture of the group is. I was also going through a major transition in my life and it was BMR Boston that allowed me to feel comfortable; being myself and also helping them build the chapter. My family was there for me, my friends were there for me and BMR was there for me.
I also run with several other groups in the Boston area with a goal in mind of engaging the rest of the running community while promoting BMR. I love that we are a plethora of backgrounds, experiences, cultures and beliefs but with a common theme of brotherhood.
Once I came on board with BMR Boston, I just really enjoyed the culture. Year one was our blue sky year. I started planning routes which would be historic lessons while we ran. I love Black history. I would take the group to different parts of the city. When the Jeff’s saw my passion for running and being an extension of what they created, they said it just made sense to make me one of the vice-captains. I was honored that they chose me for this. I really love what I have been able to do for the chapter and myself.
HOW HAS THE BOSTON RUNNING COMMUNITY ACCEPTED YOUR CHAPTER?
Boston is different. For a comparison, the first time I went to Atlanta, was in 2007 after college and I was in culture shock. I had never seen anything like it, just Black folks everywhere. I had never seen so many of us in one place everywhere you went. You do not see that in Boston. So I am used to the isolation and sometimes being the only Black person in the workplace. The running community has these groups most of which are majority white runners as they represent the region. A lot of Black men in the community don’t see people like them so they tend to avoid a lot of places. For me, just because I don’t see my face does not mean I am not going to certain spaces.
When BMR Boston debuted, people actually love seeing us. In the midst of covid, Black Lives Matter, etc., …..a group of Black men 5-plus running down the streets for their health, many in the Black neighborhoods were intrigued and enthused. Cars honk in support. BUT when we run thru spaces that aren’t predominantly Black, the feeling is kind of like…. ‘why are you guys here?’ We often get these puzzled looks. Overall, Boston has accepted us.
Boston is the running capital of the country. There is something for everyone, the November Project, there’s Heartbreak Run, Midnight Runs, we did routes during Women’s history month. We have had groups dedicated to POC [people of color] but this is the first time we have had one dedicated to Black men. I wear my BMR gear when I run with other groups. I am meeting Black men that I ordinarily would not have met going through my day to day. BMR is an example of what Black Boston is. Its good to see who we all are and how we navigate some of the areas of Boston.
THE BOSTON MARATHON!
Serghino was selected as a 2023 Marathon Sports Ambassador. What exactly does that mean?
We have a partnership with Fleet Feet. Boston Marathon Sports has been around a long time and is a subsidiary of Fleet Feet. Captain Jeff Davis was speaking on a panel for another running group and we all came to support him. Someone reached out to me via LinkedIn looking to get more diverse perspectives onboard. As an ambassador, I am myself, Serghino Rene, who runs with Black Men Run, plays in different lgbtq+ sports activities, and an alumni relations specialist. I put on 4 events over the course of a year on topics of my choosing. Its very new. This is fresh. Organizing the shakeout run. So I am thinking of topics that may appeal to a broad community; an opportunity to legitimize and share the BMR experience and show them ‘hey this is what a runner looks like in the community’ –
For someone contemplating coming out to a group run but they are on the fence about it, what would you say to them.
You know our motto, ‘no man land behind’ so just come as you are. We’ve been trying to create different avenues for people to meet us. Wearing my gear and having someone ask me about it. Last year, we initiated some social events outside of running, so for someone not to sure about showing up to a group run, they may feel more comfortable at a social event, meeting us, and asking questions about running and what we do.
Boston is pretty lucky to have this brother!
James Hale – National Vice-Captain, Director of Communication and Co-Host of BMR’s The Healthy Brotherhood Show. – https://blackmenrun.com/bmr-blog/