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Richmond to host 16.19, a new Black history running event

Runners passing the Emancipation and Freedom Monument on Brown’s Island in Richmond, VA

Next weekend, on September 17th, Virginia’s capital city is hosting Run Richmond 16.19, a new running and walking event that passes through some of the city’s most iconic places in Black history.

Runners can choose between two distances: 16.19 kilometers, about 10 miles, or 6.19 miles. Each references the year enslaved Africans first arrived in British North America.

Organizers plan for the race to be an annual event, eventually part of an international series with partner runs in the UK and Benin. Max Plank says the three places form a triangle between Europe, North America, and Africa.

“On the one hand a reminder of the past, of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but looking forward it’s really a symbol of the triangle of hope,” Plank says. “Because the idea is we can’t change the past, we can only change the future.”

The race is being held in partnership with the Black History Museum of Virginia, Richmond-based Sports Backers, and the Djimon Hounsou Foundation. The nonprofit combats modern day slavery and human trafficking, and strengthens pan-African identity.

The course in Richmond travels past historic sites, monuments, and murals. Plank hopes runners find it meaningful.

“Where you are out there, you’re not alone, there’s all these other people,” he says. “And you run or walk and you have a purposeful experience of 400 years of Black history.”

Registration is still open. You can learn more here.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Mallory Noe-Payne is Radio IQ's Richmond reporter and bureau chief. She's covered policy and politics from the state capital since 2016. She was a 2020-2021 recipient of the Fulbright Young Journalist Award. She spent a year in Munich, Germany researching memory, justice, and how a society can collectively confront its sins. Her Virginia-based coverage of home healthcare workers, voting rights, and Richmond’s Slave Trail have won national news awards.