Chocolate City Relay 2023
Words by Brittany Greene, Founder of Chocolate City Relay
Photography by Matt Stanley
You know that phrase, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together?”
I’m someone who mostly prefers running alone but, there’s no replacement for friends and a community that can support you along your way, especially as a black woman runner.
Three summers ago, I created The Chocolate City Relay; a 42 mile relay at the time, across all eight wards of Washington, DC that brought together experienced, DMV-based, black women distance runners to explore the city in a new way. The relay is a celebration of black women runners and their contribution to the running scene as well as a tribute to Washington, DC and all the running routes it has to offer. Oftentimes, running races will pass by the National Mall, Hains Point and Georgetown but there are amazing neighborhoods and beautiful sights in NE and SE too! Having The Chocolate City Relay in new areas and neighborhoods that typical runs don’t bring us to not only lets us put our running to the test but there’s a chance we’ll inspire someone new to get up and be active.
This past June was Chocolate City Relay Year Three. We welcomed 15 runners, all with various athletic backgrounds, for a 60 mile route crafted to go deep into each Ward, resulting in over 2,700ft of elevation. Phew!
The first 30 miles of CCR are really fun. There are some tough hilly legs but you’re on a bit of a runners high, just happy to be surrounded by so much black girl magic. Remember, this is many of these ladies' first time meeting each other and running together so for that first half of the relay, we’re really all getting to know each other.
Around Mile 40 is where things get tough. You’ve been out in the sun for a long time but still have the hilliest miles ahead of you. We’re away from most of the paths familiar to DC runners and are in completely new territory. Thankfully this year we had an amazing Bike Crew Support to guide our ladies through each leg. We also had our friends with Runjuneteenth at Mile 46 with soda, popsicles and all the hydration we needed.
Mile 50-60 is where you find out what you’re made of. You’ve been literally running all day and have run about 11 hard and fast miles. But, you have your team there cheering you on and your drivers making sure you stay cool and fueled. It’s a CCR tradition to run our final leg together (all three teams regardless of who gets there first).
The CCR finish line is something you have to see to understand. Although us runners started off as strangers, we’re all bonded at this point. Combine that feeling with exhaustion and joy from the supportive crowd welcoming us back, it's quite emotional.
I’m so thankful to our runners, bikers, drivers, media crew and Mile 46/Mile 60 support crews that made this year so wonderful. I am so grateful for our two partners PACERS, our Chief Community Partner and On, for fueling our journey to the start line and throughout the day and helping to amplify our story.
That’s the part that feels the most special to me.To have this community so energetically rally around black women is really special and something I'll forever be incredibly grateful for. It feels really good to know we’re all going at this, together.