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Written By Rob Smith - September 10 2020
When communities come together, great things can happen. When running communities come together, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Filsan Abdiaman, a Creative, Certified Coach, Ultrarunner, and founder of Project Love Run, reached out to Vancouver Running Co. in June, with the goal of drawing attention to how she felt as a Black runner in Vancouver. With a desire to grow and diversify their community, Vancouver Running Co. were drawn to Filsan’s fierce and passionate nature, and her commitment to bringing attention to Black runner’s voices in the Vancouver run community.
By reaching out to VRC, Filsan wanted to “highlight how most running crews champion themselves as being welcoming and open to everyone, but they aren’t taking into account their demographic (predominantly White runners), and acknowledging the lack of BIPOC runners present”.
At Vancouver Running Company, the lack of diversity and BIPOC representation within the run community was becoming an increasingly uncomfortable reality. Store & Operations Manager at VRC, Clare, notes “the world is shifting, and the run world needs to shift with it. While run crews claim to be there for anyone who wants to join, the reality is we’re not showcasing a true representation of those who run, and without BIPOC runners in our crews, on our social media platforms and in our outreach programs, we’re not actively being open to that community.”
As the partnership between VRC and PLR begins, Filsan is excited, “because it acknowledges these downfalls. This to me is one foot in the right direction – a commitment to positive change within the running community.” Filsan becomes VRC’s first Community Ambassador - a role born to help each party support one another as they jointly look to grow and diversify the run community. While VRC’s Flight Crew Run Club is on hold due to the pandemic, Filsan’s Project Love Run events are taking place virtually and in small groups, and offer a unique opportunity for the two communities to come together, and learn more about one another. Founded in Toronto in 2016, Project Love Run (PLR) is a grassroots organisation founded by FIlsan as a way for her to pass on her wisdom and experience to self-identified womxn who are looking for a safe space to run, and have conversations that emphasise self-love and self-worth. With events now happening in multiple Canadian cities, the PLR community is a culmination of Filsan’s challenges as a Kenyan-Somali-Canadian-Muslim womxn, who found running as a tool to help navigate her way through depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. For VRC, being able to support events for womxn runners at every level allows for growth in a much needed area; “to help build PLR and amplify Filsan’s voice in our community, offers so much more than us putting on our own events - we plan to foster PLR into VRC’s event calendar, while making sure Filsan and PLR have the tools needed to honour their existing messaging and events in the community they have worked so hard to create.”
Learn more about Project Love Run on Instagram, and sign up for monthly events on their website. You can follow Filsan’s journey via her Instagram account.