The Running Industry Diversity Coalition Is Making Strides Towards Equality


Running is a great equalizer. We all have different strides, but the run is a journey we all can start. However, there are still communities that are underrepresented by the running industry. Working to change this is the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), a team of Black, Indigenous, and people of color from running brands, retailers, and runner communities across the U.S. The coalition’s goal is to make sure people of color are represented in ownership and leadership positions; there’s accountability; opportunities for conversation; education through diversity, equity, inclusion, naming systems of racism, and anti-racist training. 

To this end, they’re hosting a series of virtual conversations, training, and education sessions. The first conversation on race and running will take place Wednesday, Oct. 28th, from 4-5 p.m. EDT. Panelists will delve into practical ways to have uncomfortable conversations about race and move towards action. 


Verna Volker, from the Navajo Nation is a founding member of RIDC. In July she commented on RIDC advisor and Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge co-founder, Teresa Baker’s Diversity Pledge statement on Instagram. “I would love to do this with the running industry,” Volker said. Volker’s involvement with RIDC bolsters her work to amplify Indigenous runners. “Native people in the United States are less than 2% of the population, so when you look at the running industry, the percentage is really small. That’s why I push for more representation,” said Volker, who is the founder of Native Women Running (NWR), an Instagram (@native_women_running) account with 14k mighty followers highlighting the achievements of Indigenous women runners from around the world.

“I always tell the women, this is your land run on it,” Volker said when discussing the brand ethos.“Being an Indigenous woman, we talk about our Indigenous people and how we are resilient. I always knew this, but I don’t think I tapped into that until I ran an ultramarathon,” she continues. With 20 races and two ultramarathons under her belt, the mission of her miles does not end here.

When she is not running, she’s training the minds of second graders in Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband and four children. HOKA ONE ONE spoke to Volker about the journey of running, empowering Indigenous runners through NWR, and what pushing for a more inclusive running industry looks like.


HOKA ONE ONE: When did you first tap into your athleticism and start running?  

Verna Volker: I’ve always been an athlete. In highschool I played basketball and volleyball. I remember hating the running part like sprints when the coach would say run like 20 laps around the court.. After that I started running on and off in my life, but it was never anything that I felt passionate about. In 2007, I ran this little race when we lived in a small town in Nebraska. It was like 2.1 miles. I remember sharing this photo on Instagram where I looked like I was in so much pain. I remember it being really hard.

A year later we moved to Minneapolis. I remember that being probably the heaviest I’ve ever been. I was around 200 pounds. I knew that I needed to work on losing weight and I think it was just a lot of stress. I had a new baby, a preschooler, and a new job. In Minneapolis, we have such great parks and lakes where you can run around. I started running just to get out of the house. In August of 2009, I thought well let me run my first half marathon.

I had no idea about running, personal records, training plans, ect. I’m over here like, well let me just run this race. I remember I was so heavy at the time, but I completed the race. I thought it was like the best thing ever. I was so happy. That’s when I think I got hooked.

HOKA: When you first started running were you part of a run crew? 

Volker: I was very intimidated. Here in the Twin Cities area, there are a lot of running groups, but there was this intimidation of “oh I can’t compete” or “oh I’m not fast enough.” There was a fear that I wouldn’t fit in. So I’ve spent a lot of time alone on the trails. 

HOKA: How did Native Women Running grow into what it is today? 

Volker: I noticed people were sharing their running on Instagram like, “Hey I ran 5.5 miles today” and they would post running selfies. So I started doing that and started growing a following. I noticed that even when I started running I would go to bookstores and look at running magazines, they always had that same type of runner, fit, blond, and young. That to me was not realistic. 

Where are people who look like me? Or haven’t been running that long? I started Native Women Running to bring visibility and representation to Native women runners from around the world. NWR also raises awareness around missing and murdered indigenous women, an issue that impacts Native women 10 times more than the national adversage, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. I think as Indigenous women, we can feel like we have a lot against us, but I believe running has become a way for us to heal.

I also started it because in the running world, in the running industry highlighting Native runners was very far and few between. In Native culture, there are a lot of Natives who started running very young. Running is a part of our culture.


HOKA: Can you explain why running is such an integral part of Native culture? 

Volker: In Navajo culture, there is the belief that you wake up early and you run to the east to greet the creator, to say your prayers, and connect to nature. I never realized what it meant until I found running. It sort of makes sense why I really enjoy morning runs. I’ve always been an early morning runner, like 5 a.m. It helps you start your day, which makes sense. 

I know a Navajo brother that ran in his moccasins in the Boston Marathon, that’s pretty amazing. He is just a reminder of how immersive the culture is to running.

HOKA: What do you think the steps are to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive running industry? 

Volker: I think the first step is understanding where we come from, our history apart from stereotypes, inviting us to be a part of boards, and the hiring process at companies.  It means a lot to me when organizations invite me  to share my perspective to learn about Native culture. I think this is certainly a start. 

RIDC will kick off the first in a series of virtual conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the running industry on Wednesday, Oct. 28th from 4-5pm EDT. Registration Link: 

Written by Priscilla Ward

Meaning Thru Movement Wrap Up with Alison Désir

HOKA Global Athlete Ambassador Alison Désir‘s Meaning Thru Movement Tour came to a close in September after 4 months, 9 virtual tour stops, 3,585 tickets sold, and 2,500 views (and counting).  The Tour, which was initially to be a 6-city, in person event, pivoted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and far exceeded our expectations in terms of its impact not just in the United States, but around the world.  


The idea for the Meaning Thru Movement Tour was really born many years ago, when I first discovered the power of long distance running in 2012.  I had been going thru a period of deep depression and running not only got me out of my apartment but unlocked the powerful connection between movement and better mental health.  Running was transforming my ideas of what I was capable of and giving me the confidence and the will to do better for myself.  I fantasized about one day creating programming for people, just like me, who were in need of community, mental health support and movement to help them transform their lives.  And, 8 years later, here we are!  As the country moves through the twin pandemics of the corona virus and systemic racism, the Meaning Thru Movement Tour has provided a brave space for difficult conversation and reflection as well as joyful and intentional movement. 


There were too many incredible conversations to pick a favorite but, my hope is that viewers have left season 1 recognizing this truth that Emily Saul dropped on the final stop of the tour: “Therapy isn’t just for people who are broken.  We all need – we all would benefit from – some therapy.”   


In case you missed it, all tour stops are still available for viewing.  Please check out the full line up below as well as the many guests who joined me along the way.  Stay tuned for details about Season 2 dropping and share YOUR favorite moment/insight in the comments! 

TOUR STOP #1: Allyship is a Verb 

Dr. Riddhi Sandil 

 TOUR STOP #2: Self Compassion in a COVID-19 World 

Olivia Massey 

Karly Borden 

Janeil Mason of Fit and Lit NYC 

 TOUR STOP #3: Let’s Talk About Whiteness[Text Wrapping Break]Dr. Laura Smith 

Michelle Race 

Janeil Mason of Fit and Lit NYC 

TOUR STOP #4: Addressing Intergenerational Trauma 

Mack Exilus 

Jordan Marie Daniel 

Rachel Wimberley of Black Swan Yoga  

TOUR STOP #5: Examining Power, Oppression and Privilege 

Kenya Crawford 

Pattie Gonia 

Amanda Kerpius of Finish Line PT 

 TOUR STOP #6: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind 

Lisa A. Smith 

Stephanie Bruce 

Amina Daniels of Live Cycle Delight 

TOUR STOP #7: Fireside Chat with Robin DiAngelo 

Dr. Robin DiAngelo 

TOUR STOP #8: Self Care: How to Cope with Race Based Trauma 

Jor-El Caraballo 

Elizabeth Manning 

Pilin Anice  

TOUR STOP #9: Unlock Your Potential 

Emily Saul 

Julie Moss 

Chavonne Hodges & Genail McKinley of Grillz and Granola 





How I Move Despite Fears as a BIPOC Athlete with Latoya Snell

W. Eric Snell, Sr. - E. Snell Design Instagram: @esnelldesign Twitter: @esnelldesign
📸 W. Eric Snell, Sr. – E. Snell Design
Instagram: @esnelldesign
Twitter: @esnelldesign

A few years ago, I ran around my Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning. There was nothing whimsical about my routine: wake up at 4:30am, hit the alarm twice, eat something light and cleanse my system with water and electrolytes then hit the pavement. Sometimes my routes took me outside of my borough which allows me to enjoy the quiet of the morning – something that some New York City residents don’t experience during the daylight hours; other times I opt to do circles in a four-block radius until I mentally check out. One morning while electing to do the latter, my thoughts were interrupted by a police officer. He requested to see my identification and asked if I saw any suspicious activity; I obliged and didn’t think much of it until it happened twice more within a two-week span. I quickly realized that I was the suspicious activity in my ever-changing and gentrifying neighborhood; it filled me with deep sadness and fear. Each time I saw another officer, my thoughts raced through protocols that my father taught me on how to engage law enforcement. I answered questions as rehearsed: announce every action, keep your body movements non-threatening and do whatever needs to be done to come home safely. Months later, I learned that I was not the only person these types of incidents happened to in my neighborhood.

In hindsight, I realize that I adopted this same routine on the trails and while venturing around affluent neighborhoods where – according to stereotypes – I don’t look like I belong. Unprovoked, I remove the tension in my body, smile and only give enough eye contact to make my presence known without being perceived as a threat. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve danced into prejudgments based on stereotypes. Pickup trucks and confederate flags instantly make me want to seek an alternate route. Awkward exchanges of stares from a group of White people that watch me like a moving target pushes my imagination into overdrive. Instantly, I go down a rabbit hole of questioning my own biases to wondering if I’m a bad person for my thought process for immediately jumping to those conclusions. Unfortunately, I’m not a stranger to worst case scenarios. I have several personal experiences on what it means to be verbally and physically attacked based on race, body size and gender identity. Despite these interactions, I refuse to stop moving – even when society equips me with enough reasons to be fearful of it.

As the uptick in racially motivated hate crimes gain more visibility to mainstream media, I’ve watched people craft lists of people to follow — some of which I surfaced on – to watching the power of social media help educate the masses about being anti-racist. Initially, I wrote this with the intentions of brainstorming remedies to press forward. While many can echo statements like placing one foot in front of the other, I know there’s a preliminary course that I’m required to take because of my Black skin. I scout different areas that makes me less apprehensive while traveling alone. I adopted and dissected countless tactics suggested to women in the outdoor space like notifying numerous people of my whereabouts, utilizing apps like Strava Beacon, AllTrails’ Lifeline and Life360 and running with my GoGuarded ring. Whenever possible, I travel with groups of people but legitimate fears looming around COVID-19 drastically reduced those opportunities.

📸 W. Eric Snell, Sr. - E. Snell Design
📸 W. Eric Snell, Sr. – E. Snell Design

I cannot silence the imaginations of those who fear me as 250+ pound muscular Black woman simply because the outdoor space is stereotypically associated with Whiteness but I do have some suggestions for my fellow BIPOC adventurers, non BIPOC athletes and for those who have the privilege to change some of the preexisting narratives that thrive in the outdoors community.


It is not easy to be vulnerable about traumatic experiences, especially with stories about Ahmaud Arbery, Mathias Ometu and Tiffany Johnson being targeted while running. Sharing these stories with others takes grit and can be draining. Fears of experiencing gaslighting to being demanded to prove that certain incidents happened pushes people into silence and seclusion. Let’s be clear: Being scared about being racially profiled is a burden not an attention seeking opportunity. Actively listen with compassion and respect those sharing their stories as you would want someone to see and hear you if in a horrible situation. If a person doesn’t desire to elaborate further, it is not your place to demand or antagonize someone. Do not use their narrative as a way to center it around you.


Reading a short list of influential BIPOC people in the outdoors community is a great start but I encourage you to follow content and interact with those that truly resonate with you. On social media, if you hit the follow button on Instagram, you may be offered a suggestion of others that may speak on similar issues. Consider taking a step further by diversifying who you interact with in your everyday life. If an opportunity presents itself for you to interact with someone that shares a common goal and possibly have a different background than you, allow it to happen organically. This person is not your research assignment. Develop a good rapport with them and over time, you may find your worlds merging together. This may require for you to step outside of your comfort zone.


The term influencer is commonly associated with a person that is noted in their community as a knowledgeable leader or trendsetter in a particular arena, particularly in the online space. In your everyday life, you are that person to someone. Most times people will trust or listen to a person that they know versus a public figure or brand. Encourage having an open dialogue within your fitness community about some of these topics that directly affect your area. Maybe it requires for you to brainstorm different ideas on how to make your running group more inclusive. Each person possesses a skill and superpower. The weight of educating people to be anti-racist requires all hands-on deck.


Mainstream media perpetuated a narrow stereotype of who thrives in the running community and most times, they’re not featuring Black, Brown or Indigenous people. The lack of visual diversity in the fitness space not only enforces the stereotype that BIPOC people don’t belong but it’s harder to inspire a future generation of diverse leaders that will occupy this space too. Within our own communities, we may know these leaders exist but it helps a new or even an existing populous to dream bigger when we see and hear stories of people that look like their reflections.

📸 W. Eric Snell, Sr. - E. Snell Design
📸 W. Eric Snell, Sr. – E. Snell Design


At the moment, conversations about runner’s safety is generally centered around women protecting themselves while venturing the outdoors. George Floyd’s death sparked a huge talking point everywhere about racism but dialogue about runner safety for marginalized communities haven’t caught up. Recently I became an ambassador for Runner’s Alliance in partnership with Runner’s World. This is a great start but advocacy starts within you too. Ask the hard questions: What are your personal biases? When did you first learn or adopted certain beliefs? What are you doing to change this thought process?


Unfortunately, I am not able to equip the BIPOC community with a how to guide or a step by step list to guaranteed safety. This reality is overwhelming to many of us as we read countless news reports and learn about these events through our social media. Give yourself permission to detach and come up for air. When necessary, reflect, grieve or speak about these concerns with fellow BIPOC athletes or even a professional. Nothing about these vicious attacks are normal and it’s perfectly okay to not be okay. Remember: We are more than just our struggles.


Oftentimes I’ve asked myself what can I say or do to be viewed as non-threatening? Sometimes smiling, wearing bright colors or running on well-lit paths don’t work. The absence of safety while venturing in the outdoors is a sobering feeling but consistency can remove some of this nervous energy. Despite the nuanced lack of diversity on the trails and in some road communities, BIPOC athletes belong in this the outdoor space too. When you take up space, your presence gifts another person inspiration to show up too. Fostering change doesn’t come from a one-time action; it requires for us to be present regularly. If you feel inclined, invite another person to come along on your next run. If there’s a lack of BIPOC visibility in your community, challenge yourself to create a tribe of your own.

Being judged and possibly attacked or killed for the color of your skin is a fear that I inherited from the way this world treats Black and Indigenous People of Color. That nervous tick that rests in between each stride pushes me to be vigilant but vocal. This may not be a shared reality for White cis-gendered counterparts but I urge you to acknowledge these things are happening. If you’re anything like me – a person who enjoys navigating the world through the gift of mobility – we must retain hope, remain active through our presence and continue telling our stories. Sharing the highs and lows grant opportunities for improvement. We may not have all of the answers right now but this conversation is a start. If I held your attention this long, there’s hope. To the non BIPOC community, what contribution can you make to stimulate change right now? And to my fellow BIPOC athletes, keep moving as organic as you please. Your movement and presence are a revolution.

* Outside Magazine: Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream
* Code Switch: How Running’s White Origins Led to the Dangers of ‘Running While Black’
* Runner’s World: These Indigenous Runners Bring More Than Themselves to the Start Line
* Conde Nast Traveler: Meet the Women Making the Outdoors More Accessible to All
* Outside Magazine: Ahmaud Arbery and Whiteness in the Running World
* Runner’s World: Black Women Deserve to Run Free

📸 W. Eric Snell, Sr. - E. Snell Design
📸 W. Eric Snell, Sr. – E. Snell Design

Latoya Snell is wearing the new women’s apparel from HOKA.

Using Your Platform with Virginia Calderón


My earliest memories involve the kitchen table at night. It was there that my mother, father, sister, and I would gather late after a family party, each with a bowl of cereal in hand. We would gossip: about the party and its participants, family news, the taquero of choice. The sweet and complex nature of it fascinates me still; we existed in the party and could talk about it from a distance, together: the Calderóns. Family is the first kind of community most individuals come to know. Early on, I knew my family— at the kitchen table— fostered a love affair with a sense of community that would never leave me.

I’m the daughter of Ernesto and Martha Calderón. My parents are from Mexico. Mi Amá is from Leon, Guanajuato and Mi Apá is from La Escondida, Michoacán. I was born in Lincoln Hospital in East LA and grew up in Claremont California. Now I live in Los Angeles, working in social media and community marketing. I am passionate about the cultural significance of social media marketing and it’s power to captivate and educate.

Children of immigrant families learn hard lessons about the place of their family and community in a world demanding they assimilate. They feel pulled to push aside what is most close and connected if it strays outside the ‘norms’ of the majority culture. They feel pushed to reject aspects of themselves if they hope to fit within a culture that won’t accept things that might be the most precious, the most intimate parts of one’s identity.


I grew up wanting things the white girls had, but despite the pressure, I knew there were aspects of my culture that I would never willingly give up. Ironically, in terms of my audience, the people who I use to hope to model myself after, have come to look to me as having qualities they aspire to. My followers are primarily middle-to-upper-middle class white women. Building a meaningful relationship with those that aren’t able to understand the nuances of your background is a challenge. Yet, I’ve come to welcome this challenge and I’m inspired by the ways in which different people can find points of connection. 

This country often seeks to silence Latinx women. It already underpays them. An important facet of a platform is using it to give voice to important issues of our time. So, for just one pressing example, if you don’t wear a mask in public, I want you to know how it harms my life, because I am a Latinx woman, and I am more likely to be an essential worker bussing your table. I am driven to make an impact, to use my platform to speak up and to shine light on oppressions so those similar to me can feel heard and those different can hear, maybe for the first time. 

If you have a platform, and do not speak your conscience, I hope you understand that the choice is rooted in a very specific privilege. I do not have the privilege to stay silent on issues that impact my community. Sharing and promoting the efforts of BIPOC women is important to me. I hardly even consider attempting to right historical wrongs as “activism” — amplifying voices and bridging gaps with new understandings through social media isn’t radical to me. If it ruffles capitalistic-patriarchal feathers, I can’t bring myself to apologize, simply because those ideas have never served my community well. In calling attention to issues of import I also seek to bring forward the joys of my community, my history and my identity. I share with a large and varied social media community my love of vibrant colors, of delicious meals that can bring people together, and of connection to family, community and culture. 


Virginia recommends the below social accounts and podcasts for continued learning:

Podcast to listen to about racism in America:

Podcast created by Black women that I enjoy listening to while going on walks and wearing my Hopara shoes:

Virginia is wearing the Clifton Edge and you can follow Virginia at her Instagram handle @chicadeoro.


How To Be An Ally For The Long Run

Pattie Gonia wears a lot of hats. From photographer to Eagle Scout, environmentalist to “backingbacking queen,” she’s an advocate for the outdoors in as many ways as possible. But perhaps most importantly, she’s a self-described ally-in-progress. We asked Pattie to describe what allyship means to her, the importance of making mistakes, and what  steps we can all take to make the outdoors (and the world) a better place for everyone.


Ally. We are hearing this word more than ever before. It’s written on every other social media post. It’s spoken at dinner tables. It’s sharpied on signs as we march in the fight for Black lives.

But what does it look like to do this work not just in the next few months but as a part of our daily lives?

Here’s what I’ve learned as an intersectional advocate and ally-in-progress from people far smarter than me. It’s my hope as an imperfect white Queer person to share this information with you so that you see that you are capable of taking action, staying focused, and avoiding burnout.

Taking an inventory of your capital is one of the best places to start when it comes to allyship. Think about what capital you hold in a situation. Let’s use the outdoors as an example. Capital can range from money to your job title to your connections to your social media following to your voice to your time. Think of these forms of capital as the many tools you hold to take action to ally marginalized people.

My work as an intersectional advocate is focused on marginalized communities in the outdoors including LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender queer) people, BIPOC (Black, Indiginous, Peope of color), and disabled people and how their lives are affected by barriers to the outdoors and disproportionately affected by climate change.

The action I take involves my art forms of drag and photography, my social media platform and my privilege as a white Queer person, my time and my money aiming to create movements that inspire other people to take action as allies-in-progress, too.

When you can start to think of all the tools you have rather than just donating money or posting a black square on Instagram you can realize you have so many ways to make an impact not just now but for years to come.


We hold many identities. We are mothers and runners, outdoorists and Queer, people of color and environmentalists. We are intersectional humans so our allyship should be intersectional. This intersectionality allows for allyship in one area to strengthen work in another.

The beauty of intersectional allyship is that it allows us as intersectional humans to weave our stories, our communities, our art and our culture into the work of allyship. It mirrors what nature has always taught us–that diversity and interconnectivity are essential.

Plain and simple, allyship is better with friends. Find community and if it doesn’t exist, make it. Spend time with people that you can dialogue and create change with. Hold each other accountable. And make that community as full of diverse voices and lived experiences as possible.

If you’re reading this, you likely care about issues surrounding intolerance towards marginalized communities, but because of your privilege, you have the ability to opt out of this conversation with your silence. However, a true ally will work to engage others in their community in the fight to eradicate hate. This is the difference between being not racist and being anti racist. Work to know who you are, what you stand for and then put on your boots….or HOKA shoes…. we have work to do.


Allyship isn’t judged by time or intensity and it sure as hell isn’t made of one-time radical acts. Instead, allyship is a mindset that aligns your daily actions with empathy for others- especially those with less privilege than you.

In this way, allyship offers a practice of unlearning, reflection, internal work to remove our biases, racism, and intolerance and to take action with external work.

In conversation, I find that describing myself as an ally-in-progress feels far truer to where I’m at and keeps me in a constant state of growth. I’d welcome you to do the same and to always remain a learner and and a doer.

Allyship looks like admitting I’m flawed, but that my intentions are pure. It means trying to lead in my own small and imperfect way. It means knowing I will fail and owning up to it when I do. Just remember that it’s not about intent it’s about your impact so when you get corrected, make sure to listen, apologize, commit to changing your behavior as you move forward.

No matter who we are, we have a shared responsibility to actively ally people with less privilege than ourselves. There’s no “outdoors for all” when intolerance exists.

Lastly, and I think this is the most important realization, allyship’s job isn’t to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside because we ‘did a good thing.’ Instead, allyship’s job is to make you uncomfortable. Allyship’s purpose is to open your eyes to the injustices of the world and incite you to act.

The future of the outdoors, the running community, and our world at large will be determined by actions of allyship.

Just remember, when it comes to allyship you have nothing to prove and everything to give.

You have nothing but an opportunity.

What will you do with it?

Additional Resources:

Advocates/accounts to follow on Instagram:



Trevor Ally Training

The Great Unlearn by Rachel Cargel

Ahmaud Arbery and Whiteness in the Running World by Alison Désir for Outside Magazine

View this post on Instagram

WHITENESS IN THE OUTDOORS. I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now and the recent events in the news, specifically the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man hunted down by two white men on a jog led me to spend the past few days listening and learning from people of color, specifically African Americans in the outdoors. . This post is my attempt as an imperfect white person with privilege to take action and encourage other white people to do the same because there’s no “outdoors for all” when racism exists. As a white person, I can’t speak to the unique experiences of marginalized groups surrounding race, so this is my attempt to amplify the voices of POC in the outdoors. . Thank you for reading. I’m always seeking to improve my skill of allyship as I’m not an expert in this and I am open to constructive feedback. . SHARE- Feel free to share, but if you do, please tag the people of color you see mentioned on each page as this is information compiled by me but told by them. . SAVE- Please don’t just read this once and move on but save this as a resource to come back to and reread. . CHALLENGE- read and then reread and then comment a friend, an outdoor leader, sponsored athlete or brand you think would benefit from seeing this too. . Credit to @alisonmdesir @_lassosafroworld, @teresabaker11, @she_colorsnature, @courtneyahndesign, @katieboue @naturechola, @vasu_sojitra, @skynoire, @ava, @chescaleigh @guantesolo and ellen tozolo

A post shared by Pattie Gonia (@pattiegonia) on