If you want to check the Spanish version of this post click here.

YAY! Finally a post in English (slowly you will see more and more… a promise) ☺ I wanted this post to be in both English and Spanish because its definitely very inspirational. Did you know that there are several running communities that get together weekly to run around the city? Yes… There are several groups of runners, but today I want to share how this group started with few friends and now it’s one of the biggest (if not the biggest) running groups here in Los Angeles.

I meet Erik like a year ago at the Nike Store at the Grove, and since then we become insta-friends. I started following Erik because of his positive and inspirational post, it was interesting to see a lot of street art on his instagram post and then I discovered that he created this super cool running group named BLACKLISTLA.

ErikValiente

Here are some questions that I asked Erik so we all get know who he is and how this super cool idea of a running community started.

Who is Erik?

This one is a tough because I don’t really like talk about myself. But since your asking me, I suppose it’s good practice. 🙂 I am a person devoted to making people smile and help them realize that they’re more powerful than they think. Not sure where the motivation came from, but from as far as I can remember I love peoples’ reaction when they accomplish something they thought was impossible. Once I was done with HS and going to college, I realized that I had a huge void in my life. I felt selfish and like I needed to do something for the community and put myself second. I started researching and got involved with the Big Brother Big Sister. I have been matched with Carlos for 2years and love to provide a positive environment for him to flourish. This partially filled the void I explained earlier, but I still wanted to do more for the city of Los Angeles. Needless to say, I am in love with Los Angeles. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. When I was younger, I wanted to go east or at least explore east, places like NY. I had the opportunity to visit NY and fell in love. And that’s when it hit me, why did I want to go east when everything I ever wanted was here in our beautiful city of Los Angeles? I started biking so I can slow down time and be a tourist in my own city. Biking has blessed me in many ways: finding StreetArt, loving my city, living in the moment, fitness etc. Of course I love running also but I guess I can answer the question later. So yah, to sum it all up. I love helping people, I love running, biking, pretty much moving. I love to explore and push my self. I love leadership and self reflection. Positive vibes and being transparent is what I’m all about.

Erik

When did you start running?

I have always been active in high school. I played basketball some soccer, volleyball, but I never really ran just for fun until my senior year. I realize that I was not going to be a college basketball player or pro, so you know I started trying to get into the work field and then I still wanted to be active and that’s kind of how I got into running but there’s a little bit more to it. I vividly remember sitting on the bench at my old high school and I was just kidding about running the LA Marathon and one my friends was like ” hey I don’t think you can run to LA Marathon”. I think I have always been a little bit competitive so that same night I went out to run. Then the next day, I went back and I pretty much challenged them and I was like “hey I can run the marathon” and they said “I bet you cant” and I think we put down 20 bucks. I told them if I didn’t complete the marathon that I was going to pay them double of what they were going to give me. Basically, they sponsored my first LA Marathon and my motivation to finish was so I didn’t have to pay them back. I didn’t really have that kind of money. and that’s how the story goes I completed my first LA Marathon got addicted to running and ever since that I have committed to doing the LA Marathon every year.

Erik Running

How many races have you completed?

I have completed eight LA marathons a couple of half marathons here and there the last one was the Hollywood half. of course a couple if I 5ks and 10K’s. The crazy thing about all these races is each of them were different and each of them taught me more about myself and running.

Some obstacles you overcome?

Definitely training for the LA Marathon my very 1st time. Also, after my 6th marathon I had an IT Band issue which prevented me from running for about 2 months. Oh man, that was tough. Not sure if this is an obstacle but, knowing that money does not motivate me but happiness does.

Erik Running

Running group that you are now leading?

I started BlacklistLA with a couple of friends September 2013 as a way to run with out boundaries and discover StreetArt and LA. But it has flourished and grown into something amazing where people feel the responsibility of inspiring others. It’s common to see peplum running with us who do not mind putting themselves second. What I mean by that is, if you are a top athlete you don’t come Monday to beat anyone or necessarily get a work out in. You come to inspire and coach someone and give back to the community of runners.

BlackListLA

Why BlacklistLA?

Most of the StreetArt we highlight is not commissioned by the city of Los Angeles and in some terms “blacklisted” from the city and people. Some don’t consider it art but graffiti.

Backlistla running group

How many members and how often this group gets together?

We have a active social media following of 3K and growing. On Mondays, we average 180 runners showing up for the same cause. Strive to get better, celebrate LA and StreetArt, contribute to the la run fam, pave the future of our youth, etc. we meet every Monday night at 10PM. Locations change every month but we update them on our IG bio. We also have separate events where people find out through email. The way to provide an email is to send a message to us on our gmail account which can be found on the IG: @BlacklistLA. Or run on Monday and let us know.

BacklistLA

Can beginners join?

Yes. If you can run anywhere between a 7 – 14 min mile you can run with us. We have people that ran for the 1st time ever and they joined us. We have pacers which we call “Pulse Keepers” to ensure the experience is the consistent and everyone remains safe. We consider ourself the embodiment of the LA run community and it’s the responsibilities of the pacers to keep the pulse. (Hence our name pulse keepers).

BlacklistLA

Who can join? And is there a fee?

Anyone that loves Los Angeles, StreetArt, positive vibes, helping community, and running can join BlacklistLA. No fee. All we ask for is a positive vibe and to invite a friend.

Purpose of the group?

The purpose of our group is in our manifesto. Below is the gist of it.

M A N I F E S TO
We strive for everyone in Los Angeles to love and experience the R U N.
We celebrate artists that pour their heart and soul into their street art.
We foster a community of runners who feel inspired in their lives and feel the invigorating responsibility of inspiring others.
We provide a positive environment where people feel empowered and safe to discover life through sports.
We are a group of badass runners who represent the next chapter of Los Angeles.
BlacklistLA

BlackListLA

Route and finish line?

We choose the route based on the StreetArt. We end at the meet up spot. We average 3-4 miles. The cool thing is people get to rest because we wait a couple of minutes for everyone to be included in-group picture. The StreetArt tells a story and I present the information after the picture. For example, last week we ran to my favorite street artist JR and his work called ” a wrinkle in the city – Los Angeles “. He captures LA in it’s purest way. Also, AntiGirl is one my favorites and the groups favorites. Her art symbolizes what Los Angeles means to us.

BacklistLA

Anything else for the readers?

I hope they feel and understand the spirit of BlacklistLA through this interview. All of runners are amazing and are showing up to make themselves better and experience positive vibes in our la community. I also like to stress a car free Los Angeles. Meaning, try and limit the use of a car and go metro or bike or walk or run to discover our amazing city. I dream about a car free Los Angeles where people slow down and enjoy life by living in the moment.

blacklistla

Also, BlacklistLA has huge plans to positively influence our youth who will continue to change Los Angeles. Yes it’s true that we run on Monday but that’s not the only thing we do. We represent the next chapter in Los Angeles. We represent a future where everyone will feel inspired and be active. We are creating a wave of runners who will give back to the community in one way or another. BlacklistLA is here to stay and it’s only the beginning.

Thank you Erik this was very informative and inspirational. Super cool how you got those runners together and now the groups keeps getting bigger and bigger. I love it and I cannot wait to start running with all of you guys.

I hope this interview motivated you to be part of this running community, not only to be part of a very special running group, but also to discover our city and all that beautiful street art.

For more information don’t forget to follow BLACKLISTLA in instagram.

 

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