On Sunday, November 3rd a veritable gaggle of 8-12 year old girls (and all ages/gender supporters!) in North Vancouver will be putting their well-trained heels to work with their first Sole Girls 5km fun run with MEC, helmed by Sole Girls founder, Ashley Wiles.
Ashley took a break from running (and running Sole Girls!) to share a bit about what inspired her to start Sole Girls, her own love and relationship with running, and what to expect for the MEC North Vancouver Race Four 5/10km.
Kim: Sole Girls is about empowering young girls through physical activity. What is it about running that led you to start this program?
Ashley: Running is a core sport using core movement required for so many sports, like basketball, volleyball, tennis — you name it. So by teaching young girls to run and appreciate running, they can get involved with a ton of sports. I love it because it can also be a non-competitive sport and no matter where you are in your life, whether you’re going to school, working, on vacation, you can just run, no need for a team or equipment.
Kim: Beyond the physical sense, how else do you feel running is empowering?
Ashley: Running is about mental health, in a lot of ways. Mental and physical health are so closely tied together and as a life coach, I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many men and women with body issues related to a lack of physical exercise and fitness. The reality is if kids aren’t doing physical activity when they are 10 years old, they probably won’t try again at 50. A lot of people have also built a negative attitude towards running and equate it strictly to weight loss. I want to change that attitude. What we’re working on at Sole Girls is really creating and honing tools for life.
Kim: Why the focus on 8-12 years old?
Ashley: That’s such a key time for young girls. They’re in a shift in stages of their lives, figuring out who they want to be, what they look like, who they should be listening to, all of that. That age is a great time to set them up with positive and healthy tools.
Kim: How has Chimp helped you fundraise?
Ashley: Chimp has offered me amazing support in understanding what charity is and how to create community and empower people to make a difference through donations, as well as creating easy access for people to contribute. The fewer barriers to donating, the more funds raised!
Kim: What do donations go towards?
Ashley: Each 8 week course costs $295 and my goal is to be able to have at least one girl in every program there on scholarship. I don’t want girls who want to run and be a part of the program be unable to join because of the cost. For the MEC run on November 3rd, if you register through the Sole Girls website, $5 from each $15 donation will go straight to our scholarship fund!
Kim: Can anyone participate in the run or is it just for Sole Girls participants?
Ashley: Everyone is welcome! The more the merrier, for sure. This 5km fun run is not just a run for the girls but it’s a chance to create community, celebrate what it means to be healthy, and taking advantage of this beautiful place we are lucky enough to live in.
Kim: Finally, where and when is the run?
Ashley: The run takes place at the Inter River Park in North Vancouver on Sunday, November 3rd at 9am. Come join us for MEC North Vancouver's fourth race of the road running series! Coffee, bananas and massages are all at the finish line!
Big thanks to Ashley for getting me in the know about Sole Girls and the MEC event and for reminding me of all the reasons to don my runners and hit the ground running! For more information on Sole Girls and how to contact Ashley, please visit Sole Girls.