In my spare nanoseconds, I'm the race director for the Women's Distance Festival 5K Run/Walk. I've been doing this for five years, and each time I look to introduce something new or different that will encourage more participants to "run for fun and fitness," which is the motto of my running club.
Three years ago, I introduced the concept of holding training runs on the same cross country course as the race. This year, I stumbled onto an idea that has really taken off: buddy up. The intent is for seasoned runners to pair up with newbies on the training runs, and for people who run a similar pace to find new running buddies. For the race on Oct. 10, there is a reduced buddy-up entry fee for runners who register together by mail.
The results so far have been a significant increase in women coming out to the training runs -- and about half the registrations being of the buddy-up kind.
As one of the members of the race committee remarked, "Women like to race with someone; men like to race against someone. I guess they are basic differences between the sexes."
Whether it's a gender thing or just that misery loves company, it doesn't matter. What I'm thrilled to see are more women taking the time for personal fitness...and a little bit of fun for themselves. Winning and medals are beside the point.