Cardi Davis: Being Black With Endurance




What does being "Black With Endurance" mean to you?


Black With Endurance to me is weathering the storms I have went through in competitive sports for the past 15 years and being able to learn, grow, and excel for each situation.

Through my experiences with sports, I have endured some peaks and valleys.

In my twenties, I competed in the fitness arena. I ended up having an eating and body image disorder. In my thirties, I ran track and field, played football, and competed in Obstacle Course Racing. In most situations I was one of the few black women in my field.


Tell us about your introduction to Endurance sports?


In 2016 I did a Spartan Race with my friend, Elsa. We did Palmerton in the middle of summer. I went in blind, with the expectation just to finish. I didn’t train for it, but I was exercising on a regular basis. After having my ass handed to me by that mountain, I decided to take the Coaches course and bring my friends back the following year.


I believe one of the strengths that black athletes have that makes them unique, is resilience. Recall a time when you had to overcome something challenging (physical/ mental/ financial)


I will always talk about this situation. My Ultra in 2019. It wasn’t the smartest decision I've made, but it helped me realize how gritty I was after having a child. In 2019 I return to OCR racing and started signing up for competitive heats. I was running 10miles a week and taking CrossFit classes. In October I decided to run an Ultra Race which is 30 plus miles with 60 obstacles. I did increase my mileage, but how much improvement can you make within 6-7 weeks before a race? I drove down to Spring Mill, Carolina and was ready to take on my first Ultra. It rained from 6am, my start time, until 5pm. This was not sprinkles, it was pouring down raining. It was so bad Spartan closed multiple obstacles after my first lap. My first lap wasn’t too bad until I was at the barb wire crawl (mile 10). The mud was already ankle high and we had to crawl. During my second lap, I decided to walk most of it. People were surfing and sliding down hills on their butt. I’ve never been so miserable, cold, and wet in my life. At mile 20, I cried and wanted to

quit. There was a water station around mile 20, the volunteer was playing my son’s favorite song, Old Town Road, and I immediately thought of him and pressed on. That was the last time I thought about quitting. The last five miles I blacked out. I had to think about myself which isn’t the Spartan way and I didn’t help anyone on the course. I was in a zone to finish. After, jumping over the fire, I still don’t even know how I gained the energy to jump, I was in shock. Even though it wasn’t a smart idea, I don’t regret it. After having my son, it slipped my mind how gritty I really am. This Ultra ignited a fire I thought had burned out.


A lot of athletes comment on how endurance sports require mental toughness. How would you describe your personal mental journey?


Mental toughness hasn’t been too much of a concern. I always believe I will finish what I started since I am not a quitter. For me, it’s the anxiety and confidence I struggle with in competitive sports. I believe, I’m in my own way. I know with OCR I often thought I didn’t belong running along side competitive women. In my eyes, I don’t fit the body type, I’m a black woman, and I don’t have a running background. A lot of these women have been running since middle and high school. The anxiety and confidence is what I have been focusing for the 2021 season.


In communities that are urban or predominantly black, participating in Endurance sports isn't really what is considered normal, some even say it's for "white people" how have you learned to deal with these negative stereotypes?



Honestly, joining Black Spartans, Melanin CrossFitters, Black Runners Connect, and Black with Endurance has helped me along. It’s refreshing to see black people share the same common interest I have on a day to day basis. For the past two years, I felt normal since joining these groups.


Each one, Teach one; is an African proverb derived from slavery when black people were denied basic education, when someone learned something it became their responsibility to teach others. What is something you have learned on your journey that you would like to extend to other athletes entering your sport?

We can be the best athlete in our field and still not perform to our potential. We have to take care of what’s in our head. As I stated previously, I have performance anxiety. Meditating and reciting positive affirmations on a daily basis has helped me become a better athlete.


What would you do/ do you do, to add value to the community?

I am an OCR Coach for Spartan. Every year I train a small group of people and expose them to Spartan Races. I am willing to train anyone, however I target people of color and most importantly women. It’s very rewarding and second nature to me.



As a kid what sports did you play? and how do you feel that contributes to your athleticism now?


In middle school I was a cheerleader, basketball player, bowler, and track athlete. I always knew I could be an average athlete in any sport I participated in. However, I didn’t want to specialize in one sport. Even as an adult, I’m the same way. I haven’t specialized in one sport. I try a sport for a couple of years and then I gravitate to another one.


You are a phenomenal athlete! Who are some athletes that inspire you? and why?


Serena William- She helped me accept my body type. Her body doesn’t fit your stereotypical tennis player and she dominates the sport. Annie Thorisdottir- CrossFit Games Athlete She competed and podium at the Games when her daughter was 6months. She displayed a balance between being an athlete and mother and I commend her commitment to both. Simone Biles- I have always adored her. She is a powerhouse to be reckoned with year after year. When she put her mental health over everything, I fell in love with her all over again. It took courage to put her career on hold and handle her mental health.


Alot of people struggle with staying motivated. What inspires you to continue to pursuit an active lifestyle?



Preparing on being a mom. When I was pregnant, my active lifestyle came to an abrupt stop. I have vertigo, so I was constantly having dizzy spells to the point I was falling down. I knew if I lost my son, I would not forgive myself so I stopped working out and confined myself to the house. As a result, I gained 30-40 pounds during pregnancy. After the second night laying in the hospital bed nursing my son, I decided as soon as the doctor's cleared me to return to the gym, I would with no hesitation. While nursing my son, I realized William is going to lean on me for nourishment and guidance. I must model the expectation on a daily basis. In short, William has witness healthy habits from me since he was born.


As a kid what sports did you play? and how do you feel that contributes to your athleticism now?


In middle school I was a cheerleader, basketball player, bowler, and track athlete. I always knew I could be an average athlete in any sport I participated in. However, I didn’t want to specialize in one sport. Even as an adult, I’m the same way. I haven’t specialized in one sport. I try a sport for a couple of years and then I gravitate to another one.


Can you recall an event where you feel you could have done more to get a better outcome? What event, and what would you have done differently?


Every missed podium for Spartan Races. I would have fought harder and left it on the field. At the beginning of my season I raced too conservative.









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