An interview with Trojan Gordon, co-founder of the Emancipated Run Crew
Trojan Gordon is a youth and community counsellor and co-founder of the Emancipated Run Crew, alongside Jules and Denise Stephenson. The Emancipated Run Crew is a virtual and physical running community with diversity and inclusion at the heart of what they do. It supports and encourages Black and brown runners to meet and exceed their fitness goals, while providing a safe space and voice to those who feel excluded from the mainstream running community.
Growing up, who was your sporting hero and why?
Daley Thompson. He’s the first person I remember who was Black and British and had won something – he won Gold at the 1984 Olympics in LA. He was a Black man winning a race and he looked like me and spoke like me and came from where I was from.
He was highly celebrated and was the first Black athlete who broke through the wider consciousness for me – his victory was on the news and he was the first superstar. He was Black and he won stuff and I was about 10 or 11 so that felt massive for me. He then came out with a video game that was popular.
How did Daley Thompson affect your relationship to sport and physical activity?
He didn’t really. The thing with elite athletes back in the 80s and 90s is that they felt quite far removed from my life. I was really thrilled that one of his children was born in the same hospital as me though!
Who was it that inspired you?
Dee Stephenson [Denise Stephenson, also of Emancipated Run Crew]. She was the first person I knew who ran and this relationship opened the door for me. She lived around the corner and we used to get the same train to work, so one day we started talking on our commute and quickly became friends.
She was a runner and at the time I was highly resistant to running. I didn’t understand why anyone would do such foolishness! She encouraged me to get up early and go for a run with her and for some reason I agreed. And when the day came I thought, I can’t leave her at the top of my road waiting for me this early in the morning. So I got up and went. I didn’t realise it but we were doing a Couch to 5K. I thought walk for a minute, run for a minute was easy but running for a minute is actually quite hard when you don’t run at all!
For me, this is how you introduce people to sport and physical activity – proximity. With people that you know, you can see exactly what they’re doing and it can encourage you to do it because none of you are elite athletes, or necessarily gifted. Running is still hard but it’s something I can do. I know how to dig deep.
The thing that Dee did with me is what I do now – showing people that used to be like me what they can do. I’m not fast, I’m not doing marathons in under three hours and I’m not a special athlete or anything, but I can run and I can finish races. And that’s how a lot of people have got introduced to running – through this community. We’re all just normal people and we run. All I’m doing is passing the baton on and hopefully inspiring people to try.