Lawrence Harrington – Captain for the Black Men Run Philadelphia chapter.
Allow me to introduce you to Lawrence Harrington, Captain for the Philadelphia chapter of Black Men Run. Additionally, Lawrence is also a member of Black Runners Connection and a proud active member of The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc. He is also a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan.
Lawrence, what is your fitness background and what brought you to Black Men Run?
Believe it or not, I hated running. I did play basketball. It was my kids’ mother who got me into running. When she returned from military training, I started joining her on her workouts which included running. I started distance running in 2016. I would see BMR all the time on social media. I asked one of my frat brothers about the organization. I reached out to one of my fraternity brothers and asked him about the organization. Then in 2018 I met a member volunteering at a race expo. He invited me out to a group run. I learned so much from that one run and it made me want to continue coming back for the group runs. So, my very first run with BMR was Jan 1. 2019.
Lawrence has been serving as Philadelphia’s captain since 2020. He says, ‘I’m Still learning.’ The biggest challenge being captain has been keeping members consistent; some come out and then disappear. Encouraging the guys to continue to come out. We average about 10-15 guys for our group runs. Of course, race day we have more guys show up. We are out there in 7 degrees; we are out there in the snow.
Tell me about these Hood-2-Hood running events.
We recently joined up with another group, SwaggaHouse Run Club and started doing these Hood-2-Hood runs. This takes place during the summer months. We run through the neighborhoods, speak to kids about gun violence. We also hit up different businesses along the route. We try to show the kids, especially, something different. Its dangerous out here. So, every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month, we run through several different neighborhoods. NBC 10 Philly News has covered our story and cause before, and others have reached out wanting to know how to be part of this movement. The kids love it, they join us and chant “DON’T SHOOT, SAVE THE YOUTH” – a popular chant you will hear from our people. We’ve had over 30 people show up for this from BMR, SwaggaHouse and others supporting.
*SPECIAL SHOUTOUT TO BROTHER CHRIS FITZGERALD* SwaggaHouse member, police officer and beloved BMR friend who recently lost his life to gun violence. R.I.P., brother*
What other events is the Philly chapter involved in?
We do an Annual MLK Service Project [January]. We collect clothes and shoes; we had over 125 pairs of sneakers donated to the homeless. My daughter and I also like to provide sandwiches and another group too. We appreciate being blessed to help serve our community.
Philly is a ‘running’ city. The Broad Street Run [first Sunday in May] is a 10 miler and the entire chapter participates in that – 20-30 brothers. It’s different from most of our races because you are running through the neighborhoods, people are out cheering you on and giving you love and encouragement for the entire 10 miles. That’s one of the biggest races for us every year. It is a lottery to get in but mostly everyone gets in. It’s usually capped at 40K runners. At the end of the year, its marathon.
For Juneteenth, we do a big run through the city, highlighting some of the national historical landmarks. Afterwards we fellowship, grill out. It’s also Father’s Day. We do 2 group runs each week. We are about to do a monthly Monday event for runners who don’t feel like they can keep up with us. This will be for beginners to get acclimated with where the group is. We literally run as a group. If we’re going 5 miles out, we may have a few stops, but we all stay together. When we say ‘No Man Left Behind’ we are all together. For a lot of chapters, it may be hard to do it this way. But this is really a fellowship and an opportunity to build the brotherhood on the local level. It’s a great time. We just have a party out there to make sure everyone feels included. We use our individual runs for training, but the group runs really is a group event.
Have you seen yourself grow as a captain?
Definitely! I tweaked a lot of things from when I first became captain up until now. I learned a lot from the previous captain. Prime example, I have changed our schedule which has allowed more members to participate. Initially I was doing a lot more. So now I’ve learned to not take on so much and I allow the vice-caps to do more. They’ve been holding it down big time. Delegating and time-management has helped to make a change, as well as the input from the chapter. The entire chapter has been a blessing in this aspect.
I think for the people in our Facebook group is close to 300 but we get nowhere near that in group run participation. But the active members have started posting more. So, we look at the actual members who show up: that’s the real Philadelphia chapter.
September 2023 is Philly’s 10th anniversary so we will be celebrating: a 5k run, a BBQ, fellowship. And of course, we will be in Atlanta for the BMR 10th Anniversary. Detroit was amazing and that’s got everyone hyped to get down to the ATL. We can talk about Detroit all day, but you really had to be there to get the full experience.
Me being in a fraternity, I see BMR taking it even further. We spend time with each other, we get to know each other, spend birthdays together. We do a lot from the brotherhood aspect. We really enjoy us.
Article by National Vice-Captain and
Director of Communications, James ‘JT’ Hale.