Black Roses NYC: A Cultural Phenomenon

By Mario Fraioli

GOALS. Foto by @notafraid2fail, Berlin Marathon, 24 September 2017 #blackrosesNYC

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Although they didn’t get any mention on the live feed, or receive any coverage in the post-race reports, some of the loudest buzz emanating from Berlin this past weekend was generated by the Black Roses of New York City. The 23-deep squad—which consists of men and women of various ages, races and backgrounds—stormed the German capital, sharing personal narratives and dropping personal bests that garnered them a swarm of on-the-ground attention, as well as virtually via Instagram. The social appeal—and influence—is real.

“Since so many Roses actively and ardently document their runnings on Instagram, there’s almost a serialized quality to our squad that pulls you into following along with the improbable drama of long distance running,” explains Black Roses NYC founding coach and captain Knox Robinson, who ran a personal best 2:33:25 on Sunday. “Collectively we don’t really think about it in those terms but when you’re outside of the bubble and vibing with other crews and clubs, you sometimes have flashes of realizing how impactful sharing the journey can be.”

A quick glimpse at some of the Roses’ Instagram feeds—Robinson’sHuyen Nguyen’sTom Mackay’s and Carly Gill’s, to name a few—quickly draws you in, makes you curious about who they are and what they’re chasing. Their short stories evoke emotion. You follow along, become a fan, celebrate with them when they succeed and commiserate if they come up short. The effect is infectious in its own weird way. There’s a vibe and appeal amongst crews like the Black Roses that’s changing the way people think about—and experience—running culture while simultaneously creating connections that extend beyond the phone screen.

“Folks are fond of saying ‘it’s more than just running’ but it’s also fair to say it’s about experiencing running culture through the filter of our lives as urban creatives obsessed with music, art, food and style in general,” Robinson says. “So while yes, we were recognized as we rolled through [Berlin] we were likewise excited to connect with our friends and peers in the Bridge The Gap movement, and super stoked to recognize THEM.”

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.