Angel City Elite Wants to Diversify Distance Running, One Starting Line at a Time

The women's field at the US Olympic Marathon Trials was 92% white. @sabrinaldlc and @AngelCityElite1 want to change that.

5/6/2021 2:16:00 AM

The women's field at the US Olympic Marathon Trials was 92% white. sabrinaldlc and AngelCityElite1 want to change that.

Angel City Elite, an LA-based running team, wants to foster diversity in distance running and encourage more BIPOC representation at the highest levels.

wasn't something De La Cruz noticed until she started racing out of state. She remembered being stereotyped in a way she wasn't at home, like when a grocery store employee told her"tortillas are in that aisle" while shopping with her now-husband."I wish I could've said something," De La Cruz said."But I felt like I didn't have that voice yet."

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De La Cruz doesn't believe that the lack of representation has impacted her running career overall, but the issue was so clear at the Olympic trials that it"sparked a fire," she said. As one of very few BIPOC athletes there, De La Cruz felt incredible support from the crowd, hearing people shout"Go Latina!" or cheer her on by name."It just made me proud," she remembered. She'd been struggling with an injury that impacted her training, but the support fueled her on to the finish."I need to do this for my community, my family," she remembered thinking.

"Our mission is to bridge the gap of representation, to educate and inspire people."Back home that spring, De La Cruz began reaching out to her soon-to-be teammates to form Angel City Elite, and they worked together to create a mission statement, secure sponsorship from Brooks, and get the team's website off the ground. The team's ultimate goal is to"represent, achieve, and empower," and the athletes hope to serve as mentors, speak at schools, donate running resources, and foster a

diverse running community, as soon as all of that is safe to do in the pandemic. Though based in LA, the team hopes their reach will spread across the country through social media.And ultimately, they want to qualify for the Trials again — and help it look different this time. It looks the tide is slowly shifting in the right direction, with the US sending three Black marathoners to the Olympics for the

first time ever. Now, it's about keeping up that momentum. De La Cruz wants viewers to see themselves in her team, watching them succeed at the highest level."Wow, okay, I see people that look like me, or who are Hispanic, or who are Native American," she wants them to think."I could do it, too."

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