Like the rest of New York City, the Bronx has history hidden around every corner. You can find 19th century parks, noteworthy buildings, and memorials honoring the legacy of the borough and its residents just about everywhere. On a less positive note, it also happens to be the least healthy county in all of New York state.
When Bronx residents Justin Mashia and Pedro Rivera learned of the borough's health issues, they came up with a unique way to tackle the problem using the area’s rich history. As GOOD reports, they started Bronx Sole, an open running group that integrates significant local landmarks and their historical context into each run. On any given Tuesday night day, the runners might visit Yankee Stadium, the ruins of the Metropolis Theatre, or High Bridge, the oldest standing bridge in the city. At each destination, the group pauses for a brief history lesson.
When they initially formed Bronx Sole in September 2016, Mashia and Rivera—who first met at a Nike-sponsored workout in 2015—restricted enrollment to beginners.
“If I’m trying to get people to get off their couches to come outside and run, I don’t want them to be intimidated,” Mashia told GOOD. “You don’t want people coming out and dying, while everybody else is running with ease.”
They have since relaxed those rules. Today, runners of all ages and experience levels are invited to join the group for aerobic exercise mixed with some education. To make sure none of the participants feel left out, a pacer is there to take up the rear. Participants come away from the 3 to 4 mile run feeling a little healthier and knowing a little more about the borough they live in.
If you're a New Yorker, Bronx Sole meets every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. outside Franz Siegel Park.