Nakenge Robertson of Durham is a 39-year-old research associate at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. She runs to gain mental clarity and to de-stress. “Running gives me a chance to either think about everything or nothing,” says Nakenge. “Everything is always better after a run.”

Nakenge met her training and running partner Claudia Curtis, 42, of Durham, at a Black Girls Run group run. “She is my sole sister and sister from another mother,” says Nakenge. “Our lives are so parallel regarding family, work and busy schedules. However, we carve out time to run together to help deal with all the regular craziness that happens in our full life. We push and motivate each other during training and races. When we are scheduled for a run, we are less likely to chicken out if we know the other person is waiting and most times rearranged our schedule to meet each other.”

Claudia started running in 2005 and ran for about two years before taking a break and starting up again in the fall of 2011. “It’s great for clearing my mind and helping me stay in shape,” says Claudia. “I travel a lot for work so I also like that it’s something I can do almost anywhere I go.” Claudia agrees that she wouldn’t be able to commit to running without a great training partner like Nakenge. “We talk and laugh, even while running, and encourage each other every step of the way,” says Claudia. “When we’re not in the same city due to travel for work, we call or text each other, helping us stay on track with our training. It helps to have someone who knows you, knows when to push you and motivate you to do more while also knowing when to encourage you to take a day or two for a mental break. We really bring out the best in each other and that makes us a great team.”

For information on Black Girls Run, please check out

To get inspired by other runners like Nakenge and Claudia, check out these other great run clubs and group runs:

Big Boss Run Club

Cardinal Track Club

Carolina Godiva Track Club

Charlotte Running Club

NoDa Brewing Running Club

North Carolina Road Runners Club


Salisbury Rowan Runners

Chapel Hill

Triple C Running Club

Twin City Track Club

There are many more running groups, clubs and social runs throughout North Carolina. Stop by your local running store for more information.