3 Women Runners Inspiring Others to Run

Ashley Lauretta
by Ashley Lauretta
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3 Women Runners Inspiring Others to Run

More than half of the running population is women, making up 59% of the 18.3 million race participants in 2017 alone. Professionally, U.S. women are getting faster, setting records and winning major marathons — in fact, just last year an American woman won the Boston Marathon for the first time in 33 years; just over 50 years ago women couldn’t even enter the Boston Marathon.

Women in the sport aren’t slowing down — in participation or pace — in fact, research has found women are better at pacing in the marathon than men. With a consistently growing presence and influence in the sport, we sat down with three powerhouses bringing running to their communities to find out what it means to them to be a woman in the sport — and their hopes for women’s running in the future.

The Woman: Jamie Chiu Wells
The Run Crew: Electric Flight Crew
Her Role: Director of Race Partnerships

 

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[I hope running gives other women] confidence in themselves [and the] belief that they can do anything they set their mind and heart on.

Wells holds the honor of being the very first captain of Electric Flight Crew, a run crew with three locations in Los Angeles and one in New York City. A native of Southern California, she has 15 marathons under her belt. She considers the marathon a parallel to life; though there are moments you feel like you’re on the brink of defeat, you can overcome it with the right mindset and hard work. In addition to her work with EFC, she has served as a mentor for the L.A. LEGGERS for the past eight years, so if you’re wondering what she is up to on any given day, it is safe to say she is probably running.

ON RUNNING MAKING HER A MORE POWERFUL WOMAN …

“Running makes me feel like a more powerful woman because it gives you back what you put in. Whether you are female or male, if you put in the work you can see the results, and that makes me feel powerful! Whether the goal is to PR or to simply run more mileage, the clearer and more planned out it is, the more likely you are to be successful.”

ON HER HOPES FOR OTHER WOMEN IN THE SPORT …

“[I hope running gives other women] confidence in themselves [and the] belief that they can do anything they set their mind and heart on.”

ON PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS OF WOMEN’S RUNNING …

“Definitely women will get even faster; it was not long ago that women couldn’t run marathons because it was believed that their uteruses would fall out! I think all humans — women and men — will get faster and stronger. I also hope that all women will feel safe running on the roads and fearlessly approach whatever fitness goal they have.”

The Woman: Alison Désir
The Run Crew: Harlem Run (New York City)
Her Role: Founder

I hope that running gives women a sense of both freedom to be themselves and control of their own circumstances…

Simply put, Désir is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she the founder of New York City run crew Harlem Run, but she has used the sport as a way to achieve both personal transformation and social change (as evidenced by her 2017 run from New York to Washington, D.C. in support of women’s rights). Désir is the first to admit running is her life, and she uses the sport as a catalyst to change not only her life but her communities, as well. This endurance athlete is helping shape the future of the sport for runners of all genders through the creation of inclusive communities and the blueprint for how to merge the sport with dedication to the greater good.

ON RUNNING MAKING HER A MORE POWERFUL WOMAN …

“Running allows me to feel in control and push myself beyond my perceived limits. There’s a feeling I get when I’m running that I’m completely free and, on a good day, like I can do anything. Crushing a physical goal also has the effect of translating into other areas of my life; a marathon, for example, may seem impossible from the outset, but when broken into smaller parts, it becomes achievable. That framework has become really helpful in other aspects of my life.”

ON HER HOPES FOR OTHER WOMEN IN THE SPORT …

“I hope that running gives women a sense of both freedom to be themselves and control of their own circumstances. I also hope that it gives women the same sense of community I have achieved in my years of running. Run 4 All Women, an organization I founded in 2017, is committed to just that — empowerment through running — and our national team of ambassadors have been a testament to just that.”

ON PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS OF WOMEN’S RUNNING …

“I hope that, in the future, all genders can move comfortably without safety being a concern. I envision a world where women can run any time of day or night, wearing as much or as little as they please and not encounter danger. I also hope that the future of running means equal funding and sponsorship opportunities, regardless of gender.”

The Woman: Shelly Bruenig
The Run Crew: Team Run Flagstaff
Her Role: ‘Step Into Running’ Program Coordinator

It is my hope to see a day when a woman has no fear for running any route she desires without a second thought.

Though running didn’t come into her life until her mid-30s, Bruenig hit the ground running. When she isn’t helping new runners begin their journey in the sport as coordinator for local running club Team Run Flagstaff, she is the manager of Run Flagstaff, the area’s only speciality running store. These roles, along with her work in race timing services in northern Arizona, make her a triple-threat of sorts, overseeing development of new runners, sustainment of veteran runners and the fruition of the training at the finish line.

ON RUNNING MAKING HER A MORE POWERFUL WOMAN …

“Running is incredibly empowering. From the joy my body feels when it is in motion, to the ache after a particularly tough hill workout, running makes me aware of my own strengths and flaws. Being out on Flagstaff’s trails provides meditation and a connection to nature which helps ground me and set the tone for each day.”

ON HER HOPES FOR OTHER WOMEN IN THE SPORT …

“As a beginning running coordinator, it is always my hope at the start of each session that each participant can find a home in running. Running solo, it can be a haven to center you. Running in packs, you will find lasting comradery. I also wish for each person to find strength and belief in themselves. Whatever goal you set forth, whether finishing that first mile or a bucket list race, the result is empowering and energizing.”

ON PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS OF WOMEN’S RUNNING …

“It is my hope to see a day when a woman has no fear for running any route she desires without a second thought. I also am excited to see the many accomplishments that certainly await as so many women take to our vast sport and are crushing it!”

About the Author

Ashley Lauretta
Ashley Lauretta

Ashley is a journalist based in Austin, Texas. She is the assistant editor at LAVA and her work appears in The Atlantic, ELLE, GOOD Sports, espnW, VICE Sports, Health, Men’s Journal, Women’s Running and more. Find her on Twitter at @ashley_lauretta.

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