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.


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.  


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.