Pounding the pavement for a cause is what united a group of Dubuque women who represent different walks of life and ages spanning 29 to 54 years.
“I think it started with one person just bringing another person they knew who might like to try running,” said Britney Ross, whose aunt, Ann Schroeder, also runs with the entourage. “A lot of us didn’t know one another prior to that. From there, it just grew organically.”
The group, which started with six women and now is approximately 12-15 women strong, ran its first organized event a little less than a decade ago with Run4Troops, an annual marathon that supports those who serve. Since then, the group has tacked on several marathon events to its yearly itinerary, including those hosted in more than 15 states and Canada.
“We travel and do 12-person relays around the country,” Ross said. “The size of our group and its growth, too, is a fun part that further enhances the diversity factor of us being from all walks of life.”
It also has been a good challenge for people like Schroeder, who didn’t call herself a runner prior to connecting with the group.
“These girls gave me the confidence to take the first step,” she said. “A lot of times, people think you need to have been a runner to participate in a marathon, or they think you need to be really fit. Now, I’ve run all kinds of marathons, and I’ve traveled. It has been a good challenge for me. And it’s fun.”
Beyond running, the women said they also connect through a friendship in which honesty and emotional support rein.
“There’s no drama, and there is a good balance between all of us being at different ages and different stages in our lives,” Ross said. “We laugh together. We cry together. We can be honest with each other. No one has to guard their feelings. There is a lot of truth that comes out when you’re traveling for a marathon at 2 a.m. But more than anything, we help challenge each other. It’s all about women empowering women.”