Life is a marathon, and for a Black woman, it could be a series of marathons due to adversity. Nonetheless, we show up, and we dominate. And in a challenging and, at times, expensive sport, more and more of us are front and center, showing out at big events like the Boston Marathon and other World Marathon Majors . We still have a ways to go when encouraging inclusivity, but our representation is something to behold and embrace. We spoke with three Black women who\u2019ve all had different journeys to conquering 26.2 miles. Setting the Path: Marilyn Bevans In the 1970s, Marilyn Bevans would be thrust into mostly white spaces and races, despite the diversity of her hometown of Baltimore. \u201cThe Baltimore Road Runners introduced me to the marathon and helped me train for my first . They were White. After the first marathon, I trained with mostly Black runners who lived close to me,\u201d says Bevans. She learned early in life that she had a passion for running, and even now, at 72, that love hasn\u2019t quit. When Bevans began running, Black women marathon runners were rare, and they certainly weren\u2019t winning as Bevans would soon do. She\u2019d be the first Black woman to break the 3-hour mark when she ran 2:55:52 at the 1975 Boston Marathon, and the first to win a marathon at the 14th Washington\u2019s Birthday Marathon in Greenbelt, Maryland, in 1975 (3:04:32). Bevans would also be the first to podium at Boston when she took second in 1977. She also can claim 13 total sub-3-hour marathons in her running career. Bevans became a legend, but that doesn\u2019t mean that she\u2019d be free from the scrutiny that came with being Black and defying odds. Since Bevans stormed the streets of Boston, 24 American-born Black women have joined her in that exclusive sub-3 club when it comes to 26.2 miles. But, the numbers are growing quickly as more Black women see their opportunity in non-competitive recreational running. Some recent additions include Kayla Grahn at the 2021 Los Angeles Marathon and recent Stanford grad Jordan Oakes, who won the 2021 Seattle Marathon. Over the decades, others include Ingrid Walters, an actress who had roles on Baywatch and other TV series, Rolanda Bell, who works for Hoka, and the first Black professional triathlete Sika Henry. Gary Corbitt, son of ultrarunning legend Ted Corbitt, keeps track of all this history. Leading up to her first Boston Marathon, she\u2019d heard that the course had some hills. What she found was that training in Baltimore would prepare her. According to Bevans, \u201cI was running with one of the Baltimore Road Runners, and I kept asking, \u2018Have we gotten to Heartbreak Hill yet?\u2019\u201d says Bevans. \u201cWhen we finally got to the hill, I just took off because I ran hillier hills in Baltimore.\u201d Taking off would eventually put Marilyn in 2nd place behind Miki Gorman, with a time of 2:51:12. In those beginning races, she points out that there were very few women, let alone Black people. Now, Bevans coaches high school cross country, and she hopes to get more students of color involved in long-distance running. At 72, Bevans still runs, but instead of putting up 10 to 20 miles a day to train for a marathon, she sticks to three to five miles three to four times a week\u2014the sweet spot for comradery and catharsis. Breaking the Mold: Shauna Anderson Long-distance running has always been predominantly characterized in the media as thin and white, especially in the United States. And by the time Shauna Anderson got started in 1994, change was still slow. Being plus-sized and Black has made her stand out in many races. But not only has she embraced it, she says, \u201cit\u2019s cool being the counterexample to stereotypical assumptions.\u201d Anderson, 56, ran her first 5K in 1994 and her first marathon in 1996. \u201cI was often the only Black person in my training groups, and certainly one of the heaviest,\u201d Anderson says. \u201cHowever, I am comfortable being myself around all types of people and never felt like I didn\u2019t belong or couldn\u2019t reach the goals that I developed for myself as a back-of-the-pack runner.\u201d Her comfort level has taken her far\u2014literally. Anderson completed marathons on all seven continents. She\u2019s run in Brazil, New Zealand, Kenya, and Antarctica, just to name a few countries. Anderson\u2019s audacity comes from her adversity. Growing up in poverty in Gary, Indiana, then ending up at Howard University\u2014followed by Harvard for her master\u2019s degree\u2014are ultimately what shaped her trajectory. From there, she taught physics in Ethiopia, and math in Bangkok; and she currently teaches high school math at The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, one of the top science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) schools in the U.S. \u201cBeing a teacher has afforded me the opportunity to visit 47 countries. I don\u2019t say these things to brag, but with a spirit of gratitude that I have the mindset to travel to places I only read about as a child and have worked to obtain the resources that allow me to be a citizen of the world.\u201d She hopes that people will be inspired by her running journey, despite not fitting the mold of the typical runner. She explains that people often hear about her experiences and proclaim that they don\u2019t have what it takes to do the same. Anderson is permanently moved to hear others express that she inspired them to do what once seemed impossible. She\u2019s done what many, regardless of size, only dream of, including a triathlon. \u201cA friend who is trying to lose a significant amount of weight just reached out to me this week to talk about doing a triathlon, and she says that I inspired her. She also reached out to me last Sunday with plans to do her first half marathon next April, and I told her I would do it with her.\u201d \u201cWe should have the audacity to think we can run 26.2 miles in far-off lands or ride a camel near the pyramids or ride a gondola through the Canadian Rockies,\u201d she says. \u201cWho said this little Black girl couldn\u2019t grow up to be a role model for students who want to do math or science? I somehow decided to think big, determine my own destiny, take a breath and be fearless in realizing my dreams.\u201d Putting Ourselves First: Arburn Cain Arburn Cain, 53, of Houston, started running at 33 at the insistence of a friend. She didn\u2019t realize that she had talent until she ran her first marathon\u2014while pregnant\u2014in 4:15:55. She took a break after birthing her baby and then returned. \u201cAfter having my baby, I decided I wanted to qualify for Boston, and I did so in 2004 at the Houston Marathon,\u201d Cain says. Since that time, Cain has run Boston seven times, and she\u2019s qualified over a dozen more. Her fastest Boston time was 3:45:40. Around 2013, she finally began to connect with other Black runners. \u201cThat\u2019s the first time that I actually met the National Black Marathoners Association,\u201d she says. \u201cI\u2019ve met a lot of great people during my journey\u2014Black and white\u2014and I have seen an uptick or an increase in the number of Black women that are making our way to unicorns,\u201d Cain added. Seeing the influx of Black runners has enhanced Cain\u2019s journey and has given her the mission of increasing our numbers further. Knowing that running can be important for health and stress management, Cain is a proponent of finding a community and a running group they can join, which can provide structured training events while also being aware of the barriers that Black people may face. Doing so, can keep you motivated and feel safe on your runs. \u201cAnytime I was at a race, and I saw Black people, I\u2019d introduce myself, and we\u2019d exchange numbers, since that was before social media,\u201d she says. Organizations like Black Girls Run have a presence at many races, and they offer support and a diverse friends circle. Cain is reminded of how Black women often have to be able to do everything and do it exceptionally well. \u201cBlack women runners\u2014even elite ones, are well into their 30s and 40s still kicking asphalt. We can accomplish anything, and it doesn\u2019t just have to be work-related or with regards to our family and children.\u201d She encourages other Black women to turn to running, even if it\u2019s starting with a 5k. \u201cWe have to take care of ourselves as well. Our health and well-being are important. Our children and families need us.\u201d This story was created as part of Future Rising in partnership with Lexus. Future Rising is a series running across Hearst Magazines to celebrate the profound impact of Black culture on American life, and to spotlight some of the most dynamic voices of our time. Go to oprahdaily.com/futurerising for the complete portfolio.