Black woman hiker at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro

Alison Mariella Désir is an athlete, mother, activist, public speaker, community builder, and now a hiker and mountain climber. Désir is well known for her groundbreaking book Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport that Wasn’t Built for Us and for her work making space for and creating communities that center and welcome BIPOC athletes into the running and outdoor worlds.

Désir was first featured on WRS in October 2022, when her book was released. That episode told the story of Désir’s running life to that point.

In this episode, Désir shares the story of how and why she summited Africa’s tallest peak, Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft), with an all Black group of women who she’d previously never met. Before this trip, hiking wasn’t an activity that had held much interest for Désir. Today, she’s searching for what mountain she’d like to summit next.

This is the story of discovering a new source of joy, empowerment, and rewarding challenge. And of why the work Désir is committed to is still so necessary.

As transformative as this journey has been, when Désir returned to the US, she was faced once again with the reality of most running, trail, and outdoor communities in this country, especially those with the greatest access to power and change: how they center and favor white athletes. Highlighting this reality, in particular, was an article in the popular trail and ultra publication I Run Far, “Women in Trail Running and Ultrarunning: Perspectives on the Challenges and Progression Toward Equity.” The equity discussed, however, focused only on white women: written by two white women, all the sources for the story were also all white women (a deliberate editorial choice).

Reflecting on the ongoing need for change, the need to get serious about inclusion, Désir’s story ends with a call to action, a call for much needed conversations.

Keep Up with Alison Mariella Désir

Alison’s website:

Alison on Instagram: @alisonmdesir

Mentioned in this Episode

Soraka Tours:

Alison Mariella Désir on WRS, October 2022:

Article from I Run Far: “Women in Trail Running and Ultrarunning: Perspectives on the Challenges and Progression Toward Equity”

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Music Credits

Cormac O’Regan, of Playtoh

penguinmusic, via Pixabay

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SergePavkinMusic, via Pixabay

Grand Project, via Pixabay

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