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AT a time when there were few female runners in Canberra, 10 women gathered in Stromlo Forest and ran the first women and girls’ six-kilometre Jogalong.
It was 1978, running was still very much male dominated and these women wanted to create a supportive and inclusive environment for female runners.
Forty years down the track, the YMCA Canberra Runners Club (YCRC) vice president, Carol Ey, says the group is still as relevant now as it was then.
“Even now that there are lots of women runners, there are still women who might be starting out and feeling self-conscious,” says Carol, 58, of Weston.
“This is a very supportive environment for those people. Mums can come and put their kids in childcare or their children can have a run in the ‘minijog’.”
Carol joined the group before having children and, because of the support, found it easy to continue to participate in the Jogalongs after having both her daughter and son.
It’s the community feel of the group, the support and the love of running that keeps her involved even now that her children are well into their adult years.
And she’s not the only one. Carol says it’s not uncommon to see members who are later joined by their daughters and then their daughters’ daughters.
She says people love being part of the community with one women, Linda Miles, who has been in 268 Jogalongs, while another 58 women have completed more than 100.
“It’s a considerable record for a monthly event, requiring at least nine years of regular attendance,” she says.
“The advantage of running is you can fit it in with other things unlike team sports.”
Since it began more than 6500 women and girls have run the Jogalong and to mark its 40 years of existence YCRC is hosting a Jogalong with a “minijog”, children and adult barrel draws and fundraising for Ovcan as part of ovarian cancer awareness month. The event will be held at Weston Park, 8am, on Sunday, February 4.
About four of the Jogalongs original runners will be there as well as YCRC’s members. Any new runners are welcome to come along.
“We would like to see as many former Jogalong participants as possible come along and help us celebrate this milestone,” Carol says.
“It’s a celebration to mark a significant day and it also encourages women to get into running.
“The Jogalong is all about participation and enjoyment. It aims to encourage women and girls to get out and get active by providing a physical challenge in a friendly and social environment and a regular opportunity to improve on their own personal best.
“The event caters to all women and girls from walkers up to Olympians. A handicap system is used so that the winner is the person who improves most, rather than the fastest runner.
“After the event, participants are encouraged to share a cuppa and some fruit.”
The Jogalong, Weston Park, near Pescott Lane, Yarralumla, 8am, February 4. Visit canberrarunner.org.au