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WUNC Youth Reporting Institute Production. Youth Reporting mentor Caitlin Leggett hosts weekly instagram lives with the movers and shakers of our community. Her introspective interviews bring the community to the world, and amplify the voices of the marginalized.

'Mad Miles? On a Tuesday!' Charlotte run club encourages community health

Cornell W. Jones (in the center) and the Mad Miles Run Club in action.
Joseph Watt
Cornell W. Jones (in the center) and the Mad Miles Run Club in action.

Mad Miles Run Club aims to offer runners a safe place to learn, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and catch fitness goals. Whether you’re running daily, weekly, or just getting into a groove, they're here to support your journey.

It was January 2019 when Cornell W. Jones realized he was getting really lazy. The former track and field athlete at Winston-Salem University used to run in the 4x400 relay and the 400 meter hurdles in college. But as he got more invested in his career at ESPN, he realized his fitness was slipping away.

"And then when I turned 29, … I was like, 'Yo, like, I gotta get back out there,'" he said.

So Jones and his friends started running a mile a day, and posting about it on social media. Luckily, other friends saw what he was posting.

"They were like, 'Yo, like, I got you for this month’ ... I'm like, ’Bet’, and after about like six months, I felt like every single day I was posting to my own personal story,” he said.

And that is how the “Mile A Day” challenge — which Jones uses to get his community engaged with health and wellness — was born.

A Tuesday evening or Saturday morning at Mad Miles Run Club can only be compared to the euphoric feeling an HBCU student gets from being in the yard on a hot summer day. The energetic call and response chant "Mad Miles? On a Tuesday!" echoes through the air in Charlotte. People of all ethnicities and ages move and sweat to the sounds of DJ King in the middle of Camp North End is a regular occurrence for this club.

Changing Channels: Caitlin Leggett interviews Cornell Jones aka Mr. Mad Miles

Dozens of runners across the Charlotte area joined in, and soon, the group of friends grew to a community of over 500 people. Their mission was simple, “To offer runners a safe place to learn, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and catch goals.”

A typical session begins with a group warm-up by one of their many fitness instructors, some inspiring chants to get the crowd hype, and three pieces of good news from the community. It’s then followed up with a guided two-mile walk, run, or jog at your own pace around the Camp North End center.

If you find yourself on one of these runs, don’t forget to smile: There are always photographers around ready to catch a candid moment. It ends with a cool down led by an instructor and what Jones calls, “church announcements.” These announcements highlight events in the Charlotte community. Perhaps the best part? A variety of line dances that never cease to amaze newcomers.

The Mad Miles community has branched out to include a nonprofit 501(c)(3) “More Than Miles.” The organization hosts community events, provides scholarships, and recently gave away more than 1,000 pairs of shoes.

"We wanted to make sure that we gave back ... and teach people about running, teach people about a healthy lifestyle. But we also understand people ... need funds and support. So we do different things, like feeding the less fortunate," Jones said.

Mad Miles Run Club
Joseph Watt Photography
Mad Miles Run Club

Jones says that growth is the most important aspect of their mission.

"The mission has always been run together, grow together, and I think that it's simple... it means what it means, right? ... And that speaks to the consistency of all these people who keep coming out week after week."

"People are like, 'No, I'm here, I'm active. I don't care if it's 30 degrees, I don't care if it's 20 degrees, it can be 90 degrees. I'm outside every Tuesday and Saturday."

The club has aspirations to keep the growth in an upward motion as they embark on a Mad Miles summer filled with community events, networking, and most importantly—running.

Caitlin Leggett was WUNC's News Administrative Intern & Youth Reporting Mentor.
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