“When I first started running, I didn’t have a single friend to run with. All my runs were by myself, no one to race with, no one to motivate me to get out there, just me and the road. And it was boring,” said Pam Burrus.

In 2010, Burrus started Moms RUN This Town/She RUNS This Town (MRTT/SRTT) with the goal of connecting with other moms, and from a small group of friends and a fun play on words, the free running club for women has grown into hundreds of chapters worldwide, with one special chapter connecting women in the FishHawk area even during the current health crisis.

Vanessa Russell and Melissa Ortiz, two founders of the FishHawk group, are amazed at how their group has grown from about 10 women to over 500 since 2017.

Russell can attest to the importance of having a tribe of women to motivate and push you: “It has become a safe place to come together, both physically and over Facebook, to encourage, support and share information with women who all share a common love.”

Russell added, “[It’s about] getting to know someone new, having someone push you in ways you would never do on your own and putting yourself out there. Community is so important; what better way to get to know your neighbors than on a run doing something for yourself but also being there for someone else?”

Ortiz even ran her first marathon because of the group support. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or are just getting started, there’s a person with a pace out there ready to run at your level.

Whether your goal is your first mile or your first ultra, there’s a friend who will help you finish. The online community has been a means of staying connected despite the social distancing through individuals posting pictures, offering others motivation and participating in virtual runs/challenges.

Russell knows “We can’t control this process or the outcome, but what we can control is our mindset and perspective. We can’t make this situation go away, but with community and inspiration we can get through this together. Although exercise isn’t the cure-all, this group is much more than just running.”

The FishHawk chapter of MRTT/SRTT is not open to just FishHawk, it’s open to all women who want to run with them. The best part is that it’s totally free, and now is the perfect time to virtually connect. There will be plenty of time for meetups and sweaty high fives in the future.

For more information on the FishHawk chapter, visit facebook.com/groups/109836793199318. You can also explore momsrunthistown.com to find other chapters near you.