|Eva, Jen and Anna|
Running clubs have the potential of solving many of our world’s problems. Running and walking serve as preventative healthcare, keeping us fit– physically and mentally. Running helps us build confidence, set goals and accomplish our goals. Running is great therapy and a stress reliever. It’s also an affordable physical activity and one that keeps our kids fit and happy, too. How different would the world be if everyone ran?
These sentiments were echoed by Anne Audain, who was honored as the Distance Masters Runner of the Year by the Road Runners Club of America in Spokane last month. “Running clubs are providing the best preventative healthcare,” expressed New Zealand-born Audain.
I had the privilege of seeing Audain accept her award and speak at the Road Runners Club of America event with other Run Wild Missoula representatives. Audain’s speech confirmed my revelation about running during the past few years. Running has been part of my life for as long as I can remember and I’ve always taken it for granted—the fact that it keeps me fit, helps relieve stress, and it provides a sense of community and purpose.
My involvement in Run Wild Missoula and youth running programs in Missoula makes me realize that running is so much more. If kids were required to run and discovered the fun that comes along with it, running would solve the childhood obesity epidemic. If we ran or walked to work, we would be a fitter and healthier community with cleaner air and we would come to and from work feeling less stressed. If we all ran in the workplace or with friends it would provide camaraderie and healthy team building. If all trained for a few events each year we would set purposeful goals and build confidence—and we would have more fun. What we would learn from running would transfer to other parts of our lives, making us smarter, goal-oriented, motivated, hard-working and happier.
Audain, who grew up in New Zealand, says: “Running gave me the strength, courage and fighting spirit to fight the great fight.”
Her running club gave her the opportunity to succeed. At age 17, Audain couldn’t afford to travel to compete. Her running club and the community raised funds to make her dreams come true and in 1974 Audain competed in the 1500 m (the longest event open to women at that time) in the British Commonwealth Games and came in 6th and the 1st New Zealander. She went on to compete in three Olympic Games, running the 1500 m and later the 3000 m, 5000 m, 10,000 m and the marathon as they became available for women to compete. Audain broke the world record for the 5,000 m in 1982 and had the New Zealand record in the 3,000 m for 25 years.
Today Audain lives in Boise and is the founder of the Idaho Women’s Fitness Celebration 5K, the largest 5k race for women in the United States. Audain shows her community that the impacts of running can be far-reaching.
I hope Run Wild Missoula and other running clubs across the country are doing the same.
by Eva Dunn-Froebig, RWM Executive Director