No headphones. Just a phone. Ashley Hicks doesn’t need music when she runs. The new mother needs to hear herself dream a little and still be reachable. Looking at her now, striding it out in one of Atlanta’s urban parks with the new jogging stroller, you can see why she inspired a national fitness movement. Runners like her never stop on a 9—nine tenths of a mile, 9,999 steps, or 99 percent. They always push through. It’s incomprehensible that a few months ago she almost quit.
“Maybe I don’t need to be a runner anymore,” she said.
Run and tell that to 160,000 women in Black Girls Run!—the social running movement that Ashley and a friend started in 2009. The duo organized runs in cities across America, from L.A. to D.C. and everywhere in-between, to stop the growing rate of obesity among African American women. Ashley would lead the pack or hang way back and coach the last runner to the finish line. Even Oprah wanted in. She literally ran with celebrities, was featured in Runner’s World magazine, and spoke at BGR! conferences, telling women they could drop the physical, emotional and cultural baggage keeping them from running. “Strap that kid on your back and go,” she’d say.
And then came Olivia. She wasn’t expecting that.