Who run the world? Girls! With all the craziness going on in the world right now, it’s nice to know there are still some bright spots out there. One of the highlights this week? A group of 10,000 women across the United States are in the middle of a virtual 680-mile run called the Womxn Run the Vote relay, which began on Sept. 21 and has already raised more than $260,000 for the Black Voters Matter Fund. Registered racers in the event are grouped into teams, who then log miles by either running or participating in real-world activities including walking, cycling and swimming.
“We wanted to make sure that folks with disabilities could participate, people who were busy moms, people who didn’t see movement as their form of expression — we wanted to make sure that everybody could feel included because it really is our collective power that is moving this forward [and] that will make change in November and beyond,” Alison Desir, co-founder of the event, said in an interview with NBC News.
As racer miles tick by, each team moves along a virtual route on the event map which starts at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park in Atlanta and concludes at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Along the way, participants “pass” — and are given the option to learn more about — 40 different historical sites significant within the Civil Rights Movement.
Although the Womxn Run the Vote relay is in its first year, its legacy dates all the way back to a similar event that took place in 1977, when 2,000 female runners took part in a 2,500 mile trek over a dozen states to help celebrate the strides being made for women’s rights at the time. Notable participants in that event included Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a registered entrant and Billie Jean King, who triumphed over Bobby Riggs in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match.
In addition to this year’s event helping to fund the Black Voters Matter movement (which strives to increase registration and turnout on Election Day), the relay also hopes to create a call to action and increase knowledge of other elections in key states and important local communities taking place this fall.
“Running is political,” the event’s other co-founder, Lauren Fleshman told NBC. “Many white people find that to be problematic, but as a woman, everything about my body is legislated, and as a Black woman, everything about walking outside into space is regulated. Outdoor space has been racialized as white, so us being in that space, occupying that space, and [helping to re-claim] it is political.”
Are you registered to vote? The NAACP Legal Defense Fund provides resources to help you prepare for Election Day, including how to check your voter registration, info on absentee ballot laws in every state, as well as where to sign up to be a poll worker to help prevent poll worker shortages and polling location closures. For more information, visit naacpldf.org/preparedtovote2020.