Category Archives: BMR Blog

From Philly to the Bay Area! Darnell Turner

I first met Darnell Turner, and his son Isaiah, up in Maryland for the Across the Bay 10K over the Bay Bridge [Md]. Darnell is a Philadelphia native and former member of the BMR chapter in Philly. He is now based all the way across the country in Oakland California, i.e., OAKTOWN. Darnell is also the Vice-Captain for the Bay Area BMR chapter and his son, Isaiah is also an active brother in the chapter.

Darnell, how did you get started running and what brought you to Black Men Run?

 When I was on vacation in Florida, 8 years ago.  I just went out and ran. I thought, “this isn’t bad.” Prior to that, I had not ran since 1983 for the military. I was not an athlete and I didn’t have a history of running.  I said “let me see if I can stick with it.” Then I was in my car listening to NPR. I heard an interview with BMR Philadelphia; Michael Stinson was being interviewed. I connected  with the Philadelphia chapter via facebook.  And I did my first run with them November 2015 for a race.  My man Isaiah [Darnell’s son] came out with me and he has been my running partner ever since. Its something for us to do together. Wherever we go with BMR, he feels very accepted and comfortable. He loves running with the brotherhood.”

How long were you in the Philadelphia chapter before moving and joining the Bay Area chapter? Any major differences between the two?

We moved out here to California in 2018. For 10 months, I was travelling back and forth between Philly and the Bay area but I didn’t get to run with them until the move was final.

On the east coast, its not the chapter that’s really different, it’s the environment and culture that I find different.  Its more engaging, its more dense on. Close to DC, South and North Jersey. Everyone is in a couple of hours from each other.

Here on the west Coast, the weather is so much nicer and there are other options of activities and it is geographically spread out. In the Bay Area chapter, we are really spread out. Oakland is the meetup spot. You have to cross the Bay Bridge to get to San Francisco. South Bay is a good hour away which includes  San Jose. Santa Clara.  We go where the members are.  So we do try to accommodate everyone as much as we can and keep the brothers engaged by hitting various areas. The group runs are:  the 1st Saturday is at the lake;  the 3rd Saturday is different locations. We are also connecting with Fleet Feet to do joint runs and we are re-establishing some mid-week runs.  We have also been engaging with the Golden Gate Triathalon Club [San Francisco].

So, Darnell, what keeps you running, motivated?

Watching other brothers running motivates me. I roll out of bed and look at the brothers posting their runs. That positive group peer pressure pushes me.  8 years in, its challenging myself.  Asking myself, can I continue setting PRs? Potentially getting a new PR and what can I do to fight off Father Time…staying healthy, maintaining good bloodwork numbers. When I hear guys say that they don’t need their meds anymore, I get excited about that.  The Bay Area chapter doesn’t have huge numbers but we do have a good solid core that stays connected, sharing exercise techniques, diets and we also text back and forth in our group chat all kinds of information.

How long have you been Vice-Captain for the Bay Area chapter?

I had not been out here long when Captain Kyrah and his wife started their own business and he had to step away to focus on that. Even before landing in Oakland, I was active on the Bay Area facebook page. Kyrah asked me a few times about being Vice-Captain. Oyanga asked me a few times and I finally agreed to help out. I was already doing a lot of the Vice-Captain thing ‘unofficially’.

I don’t feel a big difference being Vice-Captain as I still do the same things I was already doing.  I would say I’m a little more accountable making it to the runs.  Planning and coordinating runs, events has been really cool. We’re having fun, getting healthy. We just completed our last official group run. We gave out awards and swag to the guys. I invited a coworker to come out to the run and he was just blown away at what he saw.

We also have some certified coaches in our group. So we are able to address individual needs of our guys from injuries to training techniques, various apps to use and other information.

Do you have a favorite running location?

I like San Francisco but I love the Oakland neighborhoods, the proximity to where I am, their history, the murals. I also like The Lake Merritt area which is very scenic.  The waterfront overlooking San Francisco from the Alameida side is beutiful. The views are limitless and fantastic.  Just like any city, you have areas where you need to be careful but they have a lot of great things going on in Oakland, like First Fridays, the Oakland Running Festival. There is just so much culturally to experience.  The views are so nice wherever you go out here.

What do you say to a new runner who comes out to a or a guy sees you in a store with your BMR gear on and they ask you about BMR? IF they say ‘I’m not really a runner like that” – what do you say to encourage them to come out?

The one thing that we remind the guys is ‘NO MAN LEFT BEHIND!!!’ There is always someone running at your pace. We can also walk and do intervals. We adjust appropriately to make new guys feel comfortable and if that means slowing it down, that’s what we do.  I remember when I started out, I didn’t even know what a 5k was and a mile was a big hurdle.

HOW DID YOU SURVIVE THE PANDEMIC?

It was good for me. Instead of binge-watching tv, I was binge-running and binge-biking I dropped a lot of weight. I got in a good frame of mine during Covid 2020. Watching the page and seeing what other brothers were doing, helped to keep me going.  

DO YOU HAVE ANY  GOALS FOR 2023

Just maintaining, that’s the key. This was a rough year. I had to travel a lot during the summer for family, mom passed away, some things slowed me down.  Brother Troy  from the Tampa Chapter posted that ‘November 30-day challenge,’ and that really helped me get to 1,000 miles for the year so I kept going.  I want to continue cross-training as it helps with reducing injuries.   Minimizing injuries is also a goal of mine next year.I also want guys who come out to return for another run and another one and another one. 

Article by National Vice-Captain and

Director of Communications, James ‘JT’ Hale.

Black Men Run KNOXVILLE IS HERE! Phillip Michael Tucker

Allow me to introduce you all to Phillip Michael Tucker. Phillip is one of our newest captains. He is also Captain of our newest chapter in Knoxville, Tennessee.

How new is this chapter? Established back in August 2021. Phillip and the Knoxville brothers hit the ground running and they have not stopped. His face may look familiar to you as he has appeared on an episodes of TV One’s Fatal Attraction/For My Man. As a therapist [LPC-MHSP], Phillip was one of several professionals offering his input on a specific case.

Phillip, how did you get started running and how long have you been running? .

I never thought I would be an avid runner. After my 4th child, my wife had expressed some interest in running. I really got behind my wife and supporting her; that’s what got me started. Once I got in to it, it really took off. As a therapist, I’m always interested in things that keep me focused and balanced and running really helped with that’s.  That was late 2018 so I haven’t been doing this very long

How did you hear about Black Men Run and what attracted you to the organization?

I was checking out various active groups and I didn’t see a lot of Black runners where I live. I randomly searched for running groups of color; I ran across BRC [Black Runners Connection] and then I started seeing posts about Black Men Run and I was pumped to see other Black runners period. And I was intrigued and excited to see that there is a group dedicated to Black runners.

As a new captain over a new chapter, what has been your biggest challenge?

Finding our footing during this pandemic, 2021 has been a whirlwind. Knoxville has a record number of shootings, the community has been under tremendous pressure. Trying to keep up with everything and getting Knoxville started has been a challenge. Our group has been consistent. We have a small strong group of guys who keep it going. Their consistency has really given us stability being a new chapter.

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Do you have any specific goals for your chapter at this time? And where are you guys running?

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I just want to focus on the overall quality of life for my guys. I want this to be a chapter where the guys feel comfortable coming out to our group runs regardless whether we are walking or doing marathons. I see us as a super competitive D3 [college] program. LOL.

We currently run over at Victor Ashe Park. It’s the most centrally located park. Excellent greenway systems. The area is very pro-running and pro-cycling. I like to put people in positions of what they enjoy doing. I want to get impact from the group and we can make decisions on what the group wants. We are running every Saturday at 8am. I would like to add some more runs in the week as the group grows and evolves.  

What would you like for runners and potential runners in your city to know about your chapter of Black Men Run?

Our chapter is really a united healthy brotherhood; a space where Black men can feel welcomed and supported. If you’re serious about getting proactive about your health, we want to help you with that. We have a group of brothers that are going to hype you up, support you and help you.

Just come out, get your run in with the fellas. Saturdays at 8am, somebody will be out there. As Black men, we need to really be intentional about things that are actually out here for us.

BMR FAMILY: If you’re in the Knoxville Chapter facebook group, check them out and say hello. The brotherhood continues to grow.

Article by Atlanta Captain, James ‘JT’ Hale.

Mr. Don’t Stop Get It Get It. Mr. Non-Stop!

By Atlanta Captain, J.T. Hale

Mr. Don’t Stop Get It Get It.  Mr. Non-Stop.  These are just a few of the nicknames that I have coined for Eric Duncan. Keep reading and you will see why. This brother right here, Eric Duncan, Vice-Captain for the Atlanta Chapter of Black Men Run, is the real deal Holyfield. He is a dedicated family man, brother, retired Navy man and run-streaker. This man has overcome numerous obstacles; unhealthy diet and weight, homelessness, and he is still humble, grateful but most importantly, he is still here!

Soooo, Eric, tell us about your fitness journey. How long have you been running?

I was in the Navy when I started running at about 26 years old. I was lifting weights I also played basketball. So I have always been active. I retired from the Navy in 2009 and I ballooned up to 320 pounds. Even though I was physically active, I was eating all the wrong foods, ie, junk food. I decided to do a few races down in my neck of the woods, Hampton and Fayetteville Georgia before I joined Black Men Run. Coming from the gym one evening, I ran into a guy with the BMR shirt on. He had just finished running and we chopped it up. He told me about the Monday night group runs at Grant Park. So I told him that I would come out. Right after BMR’s first anniversary is when I came out and joined in on the Monday night group runs.  I’ve been running with them ever since. BMR just really lit a spark in me to DO SOMETHING. I really love the brotherhood, the comradery among Black men and in the Black running community. We all have individual goals even though we are all doing the same thing – we are moving. I’ve also been invited to join several other groups and some I did join but later parted ways. I stick with Black Men Run.

What’s it like for you being co-captain of the Atlanta chapter?

As co-captain, I just try to lead by example. I lead by example with my diet and my runstreak. I believe all the captains lead by example.  I cannot just consume any and everything and expect these guys to do something better than that. BMR has been a great support system. I noticed people began to follow me on social media, tracking what I do with my run-streak. As Jason [Russell] always says  ‘the world is watching’ and they really are. I am here for the brothers in this chapter. Really, I am just doing my own thing but in doing that I remain consistent.

You’re definitely not a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of guy. What does your diet consist of?

I eat fruit and vegetables. I used to eat meat and then I stopped. I became a vegetarian in 2011. But my diet was still bad, eating chips, cookies, junk food and alcohol. I still lost weight after I became a vegetarian.  Once I cut out all  that junk food, I saw even more weight come off. Now I am strictly vegan. So yeah, I eat a lot of fruit and sometimes only fruit. But I do eat vegetables too. The result of my vegan diet is that I recover a lot quicker from physical activity and injury. I feel lighter and I seem to have better endurance and energy.

How did you get started with your run streak and what keeps you going?

I recently checked my run app and I am well over 10,000 miles. I started my run streak around the Veteran’s Day holiday a few years ago. I committed to run for 30 days for all my veterans.  After the 30th day, I said to myself ‘well, may as well keep going’ and I haven’t stopped yet. 1700+ days later, I am still running every day. Sometimes I do 2 miles, other times I do more. Its whatever I feel when I get out there. I just go.  I even received a lot of backlash from posting my progress on social media. “Why are you doing this?’ and “your body is going to break down’ and the first question I ask them is ‘have you done a run streak before?’ and the say ‘no’….then I just walk away from them. LOL. Some people have even inboxed me asking if I am really running every single day. But honestly, I am not doing this for them or anyone else. I am doing this for me. That’s what matters. I may decide to stop tomorrow or next week. Who knows? I take it one day at a time.

Any advice for new runners?

If you’re thinking about it, don’t think about it. Just get out there and do it. Do what you can. Be consistent. Don’t try to keep up with guys who have been doing this for years. Just make sure you start, then stick to a routine. If you stay consistent, you will see improvements. It just takes a little bit of effort and your commitment. Slow down if you need to but keep going.

NOTE: The Atlanta Chapter recently completed a 31-day run streak in observance of our 8-year anniversary. Brother Eric Duncan was the inspiration for this group activity. Today [Aug. 5, 2021] is Day#1733.