With Men Run Deez Streets, a South Side father-son duo encourages more black men to take up running

GREATER GRAND CROSSING — Terrance and Bernard Lyles have been avid runners for years, often jogging father-son together.

Now the two have their own nonprofit — Men Run Deez Streets — that encourages black people in Chicago to get serious about running and fitness.

Greater Grand Crossing resident Terrance Lyles has worked since 2013 to encourage black men to run to prevent health conditions that disproportionately affect black people, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Terrance’s father, Bernard Lyles, has done similar work for years, teaching triathlon-related sports – including running, swimming and cycling – to young people in the suburb of Matteson through Tri-Masters . The group was previously based in Chicago.

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Terrance Lyles (left) with his father Bernard Lyles (right).

The two are also active in a black runners group on the south side that encourages people to get into running and makes black runners more visible in the city.

“I’ve been running since 2006 and I’ve run many races and marathons, and realized what it’s done for my life in general,” said Terrance Lyles. In 2013, “I just got together a group of men on Facebook and I said, ‘Hey, who wants to get healthy? Who wants to run? Who wants to change their life?’ and I got a bunch of responses.

Men Run Deez Streets started out as weekly runs with Terrance Lyles and a small group of men, but evolved into training for marathons, hosting online discussions about men’s health issues, promoting mentoring and hosting community service events and social gatherings.

Men Run Deez Streets returned to group racing in April after a hiatus. On Thursdays, members jog and chat about all things fitness and health.

Men Run Deez Streets runners are also gearing up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9 with their group runs and individual runs.

As the band returns to a more normal schedule, Terrance Lyles said he wanted to start a mentorship program that would pair young people from Englewood with members of Men Run Deez Streets.

“We expect that to happen maybe in June or July where we can have an open mentorship program for young men to join, to inspire them,” Terrance Lyles said. “We would like more young men in their teens to early twenties to start joining our ranks and understand the importance of fitness and health.”

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Men Run Deez Streets is a group of black runners and fitness enthusiasts working to make black runners more visible in Chicago.

Bernard Lyles has had a long career in running and fitness. He is an original member of the Rainbow Road Runners, a now-defunct group of black runners active in the city in the 1980s and 1990s. He served as club president for nine years.

The group was recently inducted into the National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame 2022 by the National Black Marathoners Association.

Bernard Lyles said he turned to running at a time in his life when he faced a lot of uncertainty, having lost his job while battling depression. One of the things that helped ease his mind back then was going out to the lake and seeing people running around, he said.

“I started going out a bit and I found that really took my mind off it,” Bernard Lyles said. “I just kept going because I didn’t feel depressed every time I ran. Eventually time took care of things and it all started to take shape. So that got me out of depression.

Bernard Lyles started with 10k runs and headed to the Rainbow Runners. Later, he got a job with the Office of Special Events at Chicago State University.

Nearly 40 years later, after taking up running, he transitioned into teaching triathlon. Tri-Masters was created with the help of then Chicago State President Dolores Cross and a $10,000 grant from the Chicago Community Trust.

The father and son are also active in Black Chicago Runners, where members of Men Run Deez Streets and other black runners meet Saturdays at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Jackson Park for practice runs. Some runners prepare for the 10k while others work on marathon distances.

Credit: Provided
Men Run Deez Streets gather for a group run.

The two said they view their individual ventures as ways to improve their physical and emotional health with others, but also to make black runners more visible in and around town.

“We have the stigma that black men don’t run or things like that, because if you look at running as a whole, we’re the very minority of runners,” Terrance Lyles said. “A lot of our athletes can turn to basketball, football, things like that. I think we opened up that mindset to, ‘Hey, there are black men running, and these black men who really take health and fitness seriously.’

Bernard Lyles said it meant a lot that his son was as passionate about running as he was.

“I am very proud of him and I am part of the group. I just joined in to help promote it and help with the camaraderie with the rest of the riders and share my experiences and be a part of it,” said Bernard Lyles. “I’m very proud of him and what he does. It’s kind of like passing on the legacy of helping people through running and fitness.

Credit: Provided
The Men Run Deez Streets logo.

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