Vermont Cup Challenge: emPOWERED Bad & Boujee Runners

New this year, Powered magazine sponsored a team of runners, who call themselves “emPowered Bad & Boujee Runners,” to participate in the Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge and State Agency Race. The sponsorship aimed to elevate race participation among historically underrepresented populations. As participants in road races and running events nationwide are predominantly White, the Vermont Governor’s Council is making a concerted effort to invite Black, Indigenous and People of Color to participate in this iconic Vermont event. The Council collaborates with Powered magazine to build equitable outdoor exercise space for all and to expand participation in outdoor fitness and sports activities.

Members of the sponsored team — Mialovena Exume, Noel RibyWilliams, and DeÑa Mitchell — share their race experience in this blog post.

Three people standing in front of the Vermont Statehouse holding numbered race bibs
Mialovena Exume, Noel RibyWilliams, DeÑa Mitchell at the race in Montpelier.

Mia’s story

This year I have run two 5ks so far, both within a month of each other. I never thought to describe myself as a runner, in fact, I laughed when a mentor of mine called me that after I told her I was running a 5k. I truly just wanted to be outside and relish in the warmth of the outdoors after a long Vermont winter. At the end of the year, I made a resolution to be more conscientious about my health and how I take care of my body and routine cardio was a big part of that. The first 5K was a UVM organized event-the 4/20 5K. My friend Noel was working the event and invited me to come, weeks prior Noel and I had been working out together, walking and running on a path next to the gym. Little did we know that the same path would be the path of the 5K. During the run it was motivating to see people I know run alongside me and encourage me. Even at times when I desperately wanted to stop, a fellow runner yelling “You can do it” changed my entire trajectory. The sense of community was amazing and Noel and I vowed to be involved in more activities like this, so when I got an email from Sung-Hee/POWERED offering to sponsor runners for the Vermont Corporate Cup, I didn’t hesitate to sign up and recruit the amazing Bad and Boujee runners with me.

Noel’s story

When Mia asked me to be a part of the Bad and Boujee squad I was really excited and immediately said YES! Until that day, I had never heard about POWERED’s outstanding organization. Having this opportunity fall into my lap is just what I needed as I have recently been participating in more outdoor activities. Growing up in the beautiful green mountain state as a Black woman, I quickly realized that gaining access to the outdoors or even feeling like the outdoors was meant for me, was often really hard. Despite that, moving my body has been so healing for not just my health but my soul and mind. On race day, all I could think about was how lucky I was to be surrounded by these amazing Black women I call my friends. Because of this opportunity to run with my friends, I felt so supported and was able to run most of the race (something I am and will always be really proud of). The joy we felt that day was frankly indescribable, not only were we running a 5K on a beautiful day we were representing that people of color truly do belong and should unapologetically take up space within the outdoors.

DeÑa’s story

I was the last person to join the Bad and Boujee squad and I for one, did not want to run in the beginning. Noel told me that she and Mia were signed up to run another 5k and asked me if I wanted to join and I said no. Then, Noel told me that they needed a third runner on the team and basically told me I was running whether I wanted to or not. Though my immediate reaction was a very heavy sigh, I was still very ready to take on a new challenge. I’d never run that distance before, and I’d feel like I could not go any longer when I would run a mile, so my initial apprehension was that I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the race. But boy was I wrong. The energy and excitement of my friends gave me the confidence I needed to push through the race. We started and ended the race listening to the same song, Bad and Boujee by Migos. I used to run a lot more in high school and towards the end of the race, I remembered why I grew to love it so much. It was exhilarating to sprint through the final stretch after pushing myself so much for the rest of the race.

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