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Discussion with Dora Atim de Ultra Black Running

London, UK Words : Quentin Malriq Photography : Dora Atim

Hey Dora, the Distance team met you at the Paris marathon in 2022, how have you been?

Hey, I’ve been great thanks, have had a great start to the year and super excited for what is to come!

Unfortunately I wasn’t at this event. So let’s start from the beginning! Can you introduce yourself shortly please? 

My name is Dora Atim, I am a Nike running coach, youth mentor and children’s sports coach, in a nutshell 

 When did you start running and why?

I started running because I wanted to improve on my boxing fitness. I started to embark on this journey back in 2012/3. Running was a scary concept to me all those years ago, and still is. However, back then I thought it was only for quick people and super elite people, but I quickly cam to learn that it is for everybody and you can just make running your own as it is purely an individual sport, because the goals you set are entirely down to what you want to do and where you want to be. When I became more experienced in running I found some absolutely incredible running communities such as Run Dem Crew and Track Mafia, from there on I knew that it was way more than running, but coming together to conquer it as one meant so much to me and I knew from there this was something I wanted to stick with. So initially I started running to become fitter, but I found a family in the process, which helped me unlock so many strengths of mine and help become the runner and the coach I am today. 

When I read about you, listen some of your podcasts, it gets to me the impression that running is much more than just a hobby but a real way to express yourself. Running seems also to highlight and promote the values of Intisar such as the support of minorities, freedom, and pride of origins. Thus, can we say that you’re a “Committed Runner”?

Running for me is such a way of expressing myself, through the clothes I choose to wear down to the music I explore and the playlists I create to run to. I also have similar values of the amazing Intisar, in representing those who relate to me and also the people we don’t always see in mainstream media. I would say that I am a very committed runner, whether it be committed to training for a race or bringing communities together to also share the beauty of this running movement. 

Moreover, it seems that you give a huge importance to your style. Does it come naturally to you or do you take inspiration from other runners?

My personal style has been something that has grown over the years. With running attire, it is quite easy to be playful with different colours/prints, you just have to make sure you feel comfortable and lasts throughout the run. Inspiration comes from everywhere, from artists, my surroundings and music. When I think about a person in particular, Dennis Rodman springs to mind. Style is something that I find so important as you want to feel like you are being authentically yourself in all aspects of your life. 

In order to organize and concretely pursue your involvement you created the Ultra Black Running Collective in 2020. The aim of that organization is to allow black women as well as other minorities to discover trail running. From where did/do you find the motivation to lead such a project and what does this journey means to you today?

The motivation to create Ultra Black Running came for a number of reasons, the tragedy of Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot whilst out on a run, and also the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. This was a sensitive time for myself and also a huge time of reflection on how I really feel I existed in this world as a Black Woman. I wanted to do something for Women who also looked and related to me

Two years later, what are the achievements of the UBR? 

Two years later, there have been many achievements of UBR, firstly it is simply just building a community, which feels so special to me. I am also grateful to have had many trail running and trail experiences with some of the community. In 2021, we managed to host a trail running race in partnership with Maverick races and Moju drinks. We invited a group of UBR members but also invited the wider running community as it reflects a trail running world that we want to see in the future. This was a huge success as we had such a huge turnout and majority of the participant was doing a trail race and trail running for the very first time and it felt magical that I was able to be a part of that journey. 

As we know you live in London. However you are still very available through the Nike Run Club app, on which you’re a Nike+Run coach. Could you please explain your role more precisely? 

My varied role with Nike involves all things running and fitness. I host a fortnightly run club here in London with the most amazing running community and sometimes host events in order to bring the running community together in a fun and unique way. I also have some Audio Guided Runs featured in the Nike Running App, which essentially is a running workout that I, the coach will talk you through at the beginning and then give some hints and tips along the way. There are also some amazing other guided runs featured on the app, check them out! 

Do you have any running/professional goal coming in a more or less close future? 

I do! I have a 80km Ultra coming up in April, so I am training for that and super nervous but excited. I am also planning to come and do the Mont Blanc 10k in June with some of the Ultra Black running community and some other running communities will be joining us too, so that should be a great time and I cannot wait!

At last, would you have any personalities to recommend the Distance team to interview? Thanks for your time!

Michelle Dzumbunu (@runnersvantage)

Kemi Mafe (@kemmerssss)


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