Elevating Women’s Running

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Big up the gyal dem in Run Dem Crew elevating women’s running with some amazing achievements recently. In the past we’ve been known as the friendliest crew but not the fastest. That’s changing. At the start of a new season, here’s an overview of some of the inspirational women in the crew, in the hope it inspires new and old crew-members.

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Rachel Bonner ran 33 miles last weekend to win the silver medal in her first ever ultra marathon. She is one of many women who have been training hard with EnergyLabBTS this year to improve running technique and build core strength. Her mantra of “right foot, left foot, smile, repeat” certainly worked.

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Cat Attfield won the bronze in the same ultra- also her first. She followed it up with another 30 mile race the next day. Cat bought her first pair of running shoes one year ago. She stresses the importance of staying true to yourself and having confidence  in why you run when you go through the inevitable slump. She says “It’s very easy to get caught up in another person’s idea of what running is about. Running is a personal thing.”

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Lyric L is injured but still found time to win a BEFFTA award for spoken word and premieres a short film at Hackney Attic this week.

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Jessica Anderson qualified for the Boston Marathon by running 3:29 in the Amsterdam Marathon. Boston is the only mass-participation marathon which does not have lottery or charity places. You have to be fast to get in. Jess’s achievement is no surprise. She’s been running strong in the elites for months now and routinely runs home afterwards.

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Melissa Fehr was selected to represent Team GB in the World Transplant Games in 2015. In 2008 Melissa was running 30km per week, eating healthily, keeping slim and planning her wedding. Within a fortnight she couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without losing her breath and in 2009 she had a bone marrow transplant that saved her life. She qualified for Boston Marathon this year, running strong in London and Berlin Marathons. She is running a sewing workshop teaching how to make running tights at the Like the Wind pop-up this week. You can help her fundraise to participate in the Games here.

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Sorrell Walsh bossed San Francisco women’s half marathon with a 34th place finish in a field of 25,000 and qualified for the Boston Marathon earlier this year having dominated the London and Berlin Marathons. She is co-founder of Still Waters Run Deep, a Manchester based running crew inspired by Run Dem. This year she has completed the 100K Run to the Stones ultra and the 198K American Hood to Coast team relay with women’s only teams.

Sorrell says “I’m ecstatic with the achievements of the ladies this year. What’s most inspiring is seeing people do things they probably would have grimaced at a few months back, but come out on top, and smiling. I’ve come to realise that the physical limits are actually in you, what you believe yourself to be capable of, and what you let yourself reach for. So I’d say don’t let fear, or opinions, stop you from aiming as high as your goals and your ambition can take you. What’s the worst that can happen?”

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Viv Joynes is currently running over 3000K across Europe, following the footsteps of her grandmother’s journey as a German refugee after World War II. Follow her progress here.

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Muireann Carey-Campbell, also known as Bangs, is a blogger who mentors youngers and often runs core-sessions on a Tuesday evening.

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Ellie Wood is the co-founder of RDC West and the woman behind Bring the Change. Her mission is to guide and support young people to find their purpose in life through truth and authenticity.

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Elizabeth Rufai is one of those young people. Mentored by Ellie and Bangs, Elizabeth moved from sofa to We Own the Night 10K to Hackney Half Marathon in a matter of months, as documented here.

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Lina Maria made this inspiring debut film 

 about Run Dem Crew, and in particular the impact of training for and running the San Francisco Women’s Marathon., which many crew members took on. This hilly monster was a celebratory and empowering experience, which has laid a platform for current success.

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Angel Dee has transformed herself from runner to body builder over the past year but still finds time to warm up the crew on a Tuesday. She has her debut competition on November 8th.

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Run Dem Crew is a family that celebrates success and empowers everyone involved in it. A large amount of work has gone on behind the scenes. Charlie Dark, the founder of Run Dem Crew, has facilitated this movement, but these women are more than Charlie’s Angels- they are strong, independent athletes in their own right.

There is an international crew family, and the following ladies have been blazing an inspirational trail:

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Bridge Runners’ Robin Arzon ran 5 marathons in 5 days and is constantly proving type 1 diabetes is not a barrier.

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Black Roses’ Leigh Gerson has transformed herself in a couple of years from non-runner to someone competing to be part of the USA’s Olympic team in 2016.

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Christina Schnohr runs with Copenhagen’s NBRO and is a former Danish 100m champion.

Go to voltwomen.tumblr.com for more inspiration.

For the past two years, We Own The Night women’s race has brought together ladies from across the globe to run in a safe and supportive environment. This year, the race was a goal for many in the crew, including the slow hares, who were ably coached by James Poole. The majority of these ladies have now moved all the way up to baby cheetahs and it’s been a pleasure to see the special bond they have developed.

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18 months ago there were no women running with the elites. In the summer of 2013, Sorrell and Jules began running with us, and soon we were eating their dust. Melissa Fehr became a regular soon after along with Liz Allan and Georgia, and recently more have been stepping up, like Lauren, Natalie and Jennie Holmes.

So many factors have contributed to the amazing successes of recent weeks. There are umpteen crew-members I’ve been unable to mention. Anyone who completes a long-distance race has made a significant achievement. Don’t ever mess with a woman who runs 26.2 miles for fun.

As Charlie says, when my people do well, I do well. Big ups to all the men and women making positive movements in the crew. I can’t wait to see what new frontiers will be conquered over the coming months.

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6 thoughts on “Elevating Women’s Running

  1. This is exactly why I wanted to join. I’m a newbie to RDC, started running about 10months ago and just ran the amsterdam marathon. Tonight I’ve just spend $£ on osteopath because I’m injured from marathon but all I want to do is go running; I really felt like there was a big hole in my weekend where my long run would normally be. I never thought I would feel like this about running 10 months ago!!!
    The women* of RDC are so inspiring – I hope I can grow and improve with you and maybe inspire some others.
    *men too

  2. Thanks for highlighting the many inspiring women out there running! Running has always played a huge part in my life and even now as a vet runner, I continue to conquer my many goals set! Thank you to all the great women out there!

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