RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)–The 2023 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, and this year, 78 Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority sisters from multiple chapters across the state will be tying up their running shoes for the race.

Shelly Lewis Gatling and Latanja Davenport — both members of the Delta Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority — say they are beyond excited to compete in the 10k this weekend.  

The Delta Omega Chapter members will be easy to spot on the route, as all the women will be in matching t-shirts. The group has named themselves the S.O.S Pearls, which stands for “strengthen our sisterhood.” Pearls are also a signature part of AKA’s image.  

The sisters say they have been planning out the 10k for about the past four months.  

“We’ve been doing leg strengthening, walking and running just trying to build our strength to prepare for Saturday” Gatling, who is also the chapter president, said.

This is Gatling’s first 10k, and the first race Davenport has done in a long time.

They said they wanted to join in the race to unify their chapters, and look forward to strengthening their sisterly relationship with other AKA members.  

“We are feeling fantastic about it,” Lewis said. “We’re excited about it, and it’s hard to build relationships across various chapters when you have so many members in each chapter.”

“I think this provided us the opportunity to build relationships with at least a few of our sisters in other chapters,” Davenport added. 

Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k organizers hope to attract over 20,000 participants to this year’s event.

If you are also interested in running on Saturday, click here to register for the event.