The NBMA is the largest and oldest, national, not-for-profit organization that supports Black American distance runners. The organization has awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships to college-bound, high school senoirs. While there’s no annual membership fee to join, we ask that our members make a donation to the scholarship fund.
In July 2001, Tony Reed was giving a presentation about goal setting at the National Black Data Processing Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago. He mentioned his goal of finishing 50 marathons before turning 50 years old. He had completed 47 marathons at the time. Charlotte Simmons was in the audience.
During the reception that followed, Charlotte introduced Tony to a group of runners. She was the President of the South Fulton Running Partners (SFRP), an Atlanta area Black running club. The runners discussed the possibility of joining Tony for his 50th marathon. They exchanged email addresses and promised to stay in touch.
During the next couple of years, Tony kept the group apprised of his progress.
He selected the March 23, 2003 Dallas Trails Marathon for his 50th marathon. There were usually less than 150 marathoners. Most of them were local runners. The course was fast and flat. It incorporated Tony’s favorite running path, which encircled White Rock Lake and proceeded to north Dallas.
On March 20, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom started and the coalition forces invaded Iraq. The same day, the March 23 Washington, DC Marine Corps Marathon was cancelled for security reasons. Over 7,000 registered runners had to make other plans.
Members of the SFRP decided to join Charlotte at the Dallas Trails Marathon. Since Tony was usually the only Black in the race, this sudden influx of Black runners was unusual.
When the race was over, most of these runners, including Tony, had won age group or weight division trophies.
We had such a good time that we began to discuss how much fun it would be to gather at a different marathon annually. This later became one of the missions for the NBMA.
In December 2004, after emails and phone calls, Charlotte and Tony co-founded the National Black Marathoners’ Association. It was incorporated in Texas as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.