The inaugural Northside Trap Run 5K and Community Festival was a sight to see last year. There were people from all sorts of backgrounds running, jogging and walking the race route, which stretched across a few North St. Louis neighborhoods, primarily The Ville.
By 9:30 a.m., some had already powered past the finish line and were stopping to visit vendors, fellowship with other runners or let their bodies recover with a trap yoga session facilitated by Brittany Hill just beyond the finish line.
Residents peeked out to see what was happening – some so curious that they followed racers towards the vendor booths and DJ stations to get a closer look.
“We wanted to build a neighborhood staple that people look forward to every year in order to build around that,” said Aaron Williams, co-director of Trap Run.
At 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 7, Trap Run will return – even bigger than it started. Last year, there were six DJs blasting hip-hop at several spots from the starting point at 4057 Evans Avenue to the finish line. This year, there will be 12. They’ve also added a brunch catered by Gourmet Soul and teamed up with ConsciousFest – a full line up of musical performances and poetry that celebrate black culture. Once Trap Run programming is complete – and time is allotted for a set up change – ConsciousFest will take place in the same location.
“When I’m out, I tell people you are going to have an entire day of black excellence,” said Trap Run co-director Kameel Stanley. “Trap Run in the morning and then ConsciousFest in the afternoon.”
The 5K is a brainchild of Stanley and Williams – and facilitated through The Young Friends of The Ville, a committee of Northside Community Housing.
“We thought, ‘if they can do a rock and roll marathon, then maybe we could do a hip-hop one.’ It’s all black culture. It’s for us and it’s in our neighborhood to celebrate us.”
They noticed that in black communities, runs and walks were mostly tied to something else. A march against gun violence, or a Sickle Cell Walk or prostate cancer walk.
“We can do 5ks too,” Williams said. “We wanted to promote healthy lifestyles and healthy communities. We wanted to show that we can go run in our own community, because most runs are everywhere else.”
They reached out to African-American exercise affinity groups, including We Run The Lou, Black Girls Run, BKM Fitness and Girl Trek St. Louis.
“They were super excited about the idea,” Stanley said. “We channeled their energy.”
They were hit with more flak than expected because of the event’s name – even potential sponsors who offered support, but only if they were willing to call it something else.
“I feel like we are only getting this reaction because we are talking about a Northside community,” Williams said. “If we had the Trap Run in Tower Grove Park, I don’t think anyone would question it – And that to me is a problem. It’s like we don’t want to acknowledge the reality of our communities.”
Trap music refers to a subgenre in hip-hop that chronicles hood life, but Williams said that millennials don’t view the term as negative.
“It’s like we can’t see the beauty of what’s in front of us,” said Williams. “We only want to look at the bad. We need to embrace our communities in their current form and celebration them.”
The overwhelming response to the first Trap Run supports Williams’ notion. They had 315 registered runners, more than 100 volunteers and 30 vendors – and estimate the total participant headcount at more than 600.
The Chuck Berry Family Foundation has once again signed on as a major sponsor. Last year their 5K raised more than $10K that will be given back to the community through The Young Friends of The Ville. This year they are hoping to raise even more – and pour the funds into a crowd-funded capital campaign to stabilize and eventually restore the building that once housed famed Ville eatery Sarah Lou’s.
“We’re talking about The Ville: It’s royal in my opinion,” Williams said. “This is the breadbasket of black St. Louis. Most of our history ties back to The Ville.”
Though it’s only the second year, they feel the impact that the run has had on the community.
“The cool thing is all while we were planning the first year and this year, we have run into quite a few black people in our communities who either began running or have really embraced it or stepped up because of Trap Run, and that’s very heartening.” Stanley said.
One of those people is Ramona Scott a lifelong resident of the Greater Ville. She heard about Trap Run and decided it would make a fitting finale to the goal she set for herself to complete 19 5Ks in 2019 as a New Year’s resolution.
“I’m not a runner, but I said, it’s just three miles,” Scott said. “There’s plenty of them in St. Louis, so, go for it.”
That’s exactly what she did. She walked and took cycling to ready herself and is now only one race away from meeting her goal.
“It just shows me when you set your mind to a goal, you can do it,” Scot said. “Put your mind to it, but it out into the universe, prepare and it will come naturally. I truly love my community – so to be able to complete this goal at the Trap Run just confirms my belief in North St. Louis.
It shows that people really care about the Ville and are willing to put their care into action.”
The 2nd Annual Northside Trap Run 5K and Community Fair will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 7 at 4057 Evans Avenue. For more information or to register, visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/YFVille/about/?ref=page_internal or https://www.facebook.com/events/597654264058644/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conscious Fest 2019 will take place from 11 - 8pm at. at 4057 Evans Avenue. The event will include a full market of over 70 vendors, performances, community, and fun. For more information, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/consciousfest-2019-tickets-65881829325