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Last month I changed the look of our Runner of the Month feature to make it easier for people to see who we have heading up this amazing community of plus sized runners, and when I looked at the new layout I realised something so obvious. All of the runners I had featured thus far were white.

Representation in the sport of running is clearly an issue, both here in the UK and elsewhere, I came across this interesting article in Runners World Why is Running so White? which kind of outlines the issue, but rather than get into a big old debate about race or equality I figured I should just be more proactive myself in sourcing diverse runners to feature.

Now I know for a fact there are runners from other ethnicities who follow this blog, and hang out in our facebook group the photoshoots for my Too Fat to Run merchandise makes this clear, but I realised in this specific case I had not done enough.

So I posted a call out on a couple of facebook groups and found this amazing lady.

image7Daphne Jones-Strehle is 44 and lives in Tracy, California, USA she currently has a BMI of 30 and is a dress Size 12/14 – which I think in the UK equates to about a 16/18 (correct me if I am wrong). When she responded to my post and I saw her pictures I knew I had to get her on here to find out more

When did you start running and why? I started running two years ago to get into better shape. I was once told to drop weight fast you should start running….and guess what…it works!

Thats interesting because in our recent survey of plus sized runners 68% said they took up running for weightloss. Did you run a lot when you were younger? No, not at all. I was an overweight child and was not into sports until I reached High School.

What do you love and hate about the sport of running? Running and I have a love/hate relationship I hate to do it because it is tough but I know I have to percevere for my health and stamina. I love it because it’s helps me to relieve stress.

How often do you run? Since starting Crossfit last year I don’t run as much as I use to. I run daily for Crossfit but not miles like I use to. I basically do a 5K two days a week. When I’m in training for an event the most I will do is about 9 miles.

image3Have you taken part in any races? I have run/walked 4 halfs, 5 10k’s, one or two 9 and 8K’s and over 15 5k’s. (WOW) The one race I was the most nervous about was the Disneyland Tinkerbell 10K in Jan 2013. I knew there was a time cap of 1 hour and I didn’t think I would be able to finish…my best time for a 10k was 1hr 15mins. But once I was in the mix of things running with my girls I was able to PR at 58mins…so proud of myself!

I dream of going under 60 minutes for a 10K so well done. Have you had any negative experiences whilst out running? No, since I work and run in a mostly Caucasian area I get a lot of positive feedback. I hear a lot of “go girl” and “high five to you”.

What are your biggest concerns about being a plus sized runner? I don’t have any as I don’t let my size keep me from running, doing crossfit or anything I want to try. I’m not fat I have fat and I don’t let my weight keep me from anything!

What is your ultimate running goal and what’s stopping you from getting there? I have surpassed my goal of doing a half marathon. I guess my next goal will be to run a Ragnar race which is a two days run of over 150 miles with a team. I was invited to do one this summer but didn’t have enough time to train for it.

What’s more important to you frequency, speed or distance of running? Right now since I don’t have the time to run as much as I would like it will have to be frequency of running. Just getting out there every week.

What could the government, local authorities, sports clubs etc do to encourage more people to take up running and sport, especially overweight and inactive women? They could sponsor more free local 5K’s with a finisher’s medal and do more advertising in the work place for free fitness classes during lunch and right after work.

image8What would you say to other runners just starting out? Just do it! Start slow, very slow, and work your way to a slow jog. The run part will come if you keep at it. I have learned I can push my body to limits most people would never attempt to do at any size!

Has the Fat Girls Guide to Running helped you in any way? Since I’m new to this community I don’t know a lot about it. But what I have read so far I’m so happy to have a community for us fluffy gals. Fluffy gals need love too!!

Remember ladies, this hall of fame is designed as a place for you all, to showcase the fact that runners come in all shapes, sizes and of course shades. So if you would like to feature in 2015 or know another amazing plussized runner that should get some props then please get in touch.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Black Girls Run and The National Black Marathon Association who have helped me to spread the word about the Too Fat to Run campaign within the black running community.

  1. December 29, 2014

    Yay Daphne!! Keep up the good work and thanks for inspiring me!

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