“To make sure anyone who tried it was successful” was the motto of founder of Orangetheory Fitness, Ellen Latham. Master’s student Samantha Tancredi adopted a similar ethos upon founding her new female-only running group Slow Girl Runs. Upon moving over to Ireland from Tennessee to start her undergraduate degree in College, Tancredi was struck by the lack of affordable and accessible workout classes that captured the social aspect she was familiar with as a former Orangetheory Fitness goer.
As someone who participated in sports during the duration of my formative years, I am all too familiar with the joys that come with exercising alongside others as part of a team. It creates a great sense of comradery which encourages you to stick at it. In an era where men are three times more likely to partake in organised sport than women, Tancredi is attempting to alter that narrative and make running “more accessible”.
“Thus Slow Girl Runs was born”
I would consider myself a casual runner, but the notion of joining a running club is something that I never gave much thought to. The idea of running alongside others seemed absurd, unachievable and quite frankly, humiliating.
The fear of not being able to keep up and other such anxieties have inhibited myself and many others from considering joining a running club as a viable option despite the copious benefits to be gained from group exercise.
Tancredi shared similar concerns, stating that any running groups she encountered were all “super fast paced, super high intensity. Running with guys can be an intimidating barrier too.I didn’t find a group that really met what I was looking for so started my own which was really sweet.”
“This summer felt like a very pro-women summer with Barbie and the Taylor Swift concerts,” she revealed as another one of the contributing factors behind her decision to form the club, later disclosing her current go to running song to be Karma by Taylor Swift.
At 10am on 9 September 2023 in the Phoenix Park 70 women showed up to the first run. The second run saw the group meet at the Poolbeg Lighthouse and similar numbers were reached. Acknowledging and emphasising that “not everyone lives in the same area,” Tancredi sets out to make the weekly runs accessible to all who want to join by varying the running locations. “I send out a bunch of polls to see where people want to run..…it’s about what the group wants.” The group has continued to skyrocket, gaining over 250 members on the social platform Meetup within its first week. As for what one of these runs entails, Tancredi revealed “we are doing 5 or 10ks and everyone can run at their own pace” and with interval runs and promises of warm coffee after.
It’s no secret that there is a heavy emphasis on alcohol consumption when it comes to socialising in college. Tancredi shared that a lot of the women who have joined the group wanted the opportunity to meet other women and partake in a wholesome activity without the “party hard vibes.” It seems that Tancredi has successfully tapped into a niche as the diverse group made up with women of various ages and backgrounds continues to grow from strength to strength; each run garners both recurring members and fresh faces, all keen to hit the pavement and get some feel good endorphins flowing.
“Tancredi is set on continuing the upward trajectory of the group, encouraging freshers and returning students to join, proclaiming it as ‘something for sure I would have looked for in my undergrad’”
It is worth noting that the group is open to all. You do not have to be a Trinity student to join.
Slow Girl Runs has also partnered with the newly opened Oakberry meaning discounts are available for running groups on açaí bowls. Tancredi also has plans to partner with an up-and-coming College athletic apparel company which is launching soon.
Tancredi believes that it is “important to remember every run is your run. There’s a pace for everyone. It’s not that everyone is competing type deal. People are clapping for you when you’re finishing or along the way and taking cute little videos.”
“It’s about what you’re going to do. I’m going to do this pace or whatever and like interval this but you do you. If you want to walk this you find a buddy and you walk with her.” She continued revealing how it has been “really cool to see people do actually take that spirit to heart.”
“The main goal for me anyway is to just recruit more women to do it, to encourage ‘a wholesome female friendship vibe’. It’s a very inclusive group kind of deal.”
It is more important than ever to encourage and support women to stay engaged in sport during a time where female participation in physical activity is dwindling.Tancredi is successfully doing so by alleviating some of the pressure, aiming to “encourage you to keep going instead of trying to alienate you.” As a college community it’s time we start breaking down barriers and stigma surrounding running and realise it’s as simple as lacing up our shoes and hitting the tarmac.
The schedule for the groups upcoming runs is available via @slowgirlruns_dublin on Instagram.