Pounding the pavement in the rain, the Fast and Female Built to Run group is getting ready for the Royal Victoria Marathon.
“The Built to Run Group is an all-women’s group that is built to have walks and runs that build up to the 5k, which is the Royal Victoria Marathon‘s new event,” explains Built to Run lead Holly Dickinson.
For first-time runner Kira Antinuk, who was encouraged by a friend to join, it’s been a game-changer.
“I thought that I couldn’t run due to being older and having bad knees, but he was very persistent,” laughs Kira. “And so I decided to come and give it my best effort. And lo and behold, apparently, I am a runner!”
And they’re running for a good cause. Fast and Female is one of the CHEK Charity Pledge Program partners for the marathon this year.
Twenty different non-profits are part of the CHEK Charity Pledge this year, which has raised more than $2.5 million since it was started in 2005.
Fast and Female‘s mission is to empower girls aged 8-14 through sport and physical activity.
“The dropout rate for women, especially girls in sport post-high school, is actually really, really high and being able to retain and create spaces for women and girls in sport that are safe, that are accessible, and that feel comfortable to be in is hard to find so we’ve created that space here in Victoria and across Canada,” Holly says.
It’s a cause that hits home for Kira, who has a 15-year-old daughter who wants to take part in sport.
“It’s been difficult over the years for her,” Kira explains. “Often, certain sports have not been offered for girls whereas they have been for boys, so for me, this really is significant and something that I want to support and champion in my life as well.”
“I love running because it gives me an opportunity to feel like I’ve done something,” runner and Built to Run participant Angela Chu says. “It gives me an opportunity to feel like I’ve challenged myself.”
Angela says she never liked running until she got into it in her 20s and decided to push herself.
“I realized I can actually run a half marathon,” Angela says. “I can run a marathon, and it’s all because of Holly, to be honest.”
Positive sports experiences and role models are at the core of what Fast and Female does.
“It’s life-changing and confidence building in not just the area of being able to move your body, but it empowers so many other areas of your life,” a passionate Holly says. “And that’s why I run.”
For Kira, the hardest part was just getting started.
“Every week that goes by, I just keep surprising myself, and I think it’s through the encouragement and support of being with other women who are so incredibly positive and so inclusive that I’ve been able to get to this point,” says Kira.
“It gives you motivation, and it feels like a good accomplishment at something, that’s something important for young girls and growing up, they can realize they can do whatever they want,” Angela says.
To learn more about the CHEK Charity Pledge Program and charities you can support, click on this link.