The Courage to Run 5K will celebrate the increasing number of women entering politics with a run through Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16.

Photo provided by Frieda Edgette.

The Courage To Run

To show their power as leaders, athletes and supporters of each other, women across the country will gather on Sept. 16 for the inaugural Courage to Run 5K.

The nonpartisan event was coordinated to celebrate the growing number of women running for elected offices and women who run for health and enjoyment, says the race’s founder, Frieda Edgette.

“Courage is the ability to walk through fear, and courage is the willingness to be visible,” says Edgette, a leadership coach, former government affairs specialist and a runner herself.  “Whether you are training for a 5K or racing toward election day, it takes courage.”

The main event will take place in Washington, D.C., but women can participate in virtual runs and walks wherever they are.

The seed for the event was planted years ago, when Edgette was working as a leadership coach in the San Francisco Bay area. The first Courage to Run was a series of small group runs Edgette organized for busy women executives. In addition to running and yoga, the gatherings included guest speakers and discussions on business topics. As Edgette watched a huge wave of women decide to pursue elected offices this year, she was also struck by how negative and divided the country felt. It seemed like a good time to launch a large-scale Courage to Run.

“We need something incredibly positive that is unifying and celebratory,” she says. “One of the things that’s incredible about this process is that I’m talking to political candidates across the spectrum and across the country. There are Democratic women, Republican women, independent women.”

Natalia Macker, who serves on the Teton County Board of Commissioners in Wyoming, has organized a group of women to walk and run in Wyoming on Sept. 16. The team is made up of local elected officials and candidates running for various positions. Two of those positions—county attorney and county sheriff—have never been held by a woman.

“I’m simply excited by the number of women running in my community, and I wanted to find a way to create some camaraderie and sisterhood without partisanship,” Macker says.

A small rural county in Wyoming is just one place where a rising number of women are seeking elected roles. Across the country, a record 309 women, Democrats and Republicans, filed candidacy papers earlier this year to run for the U.S. House of Representatives, according to an Associated Press analysis of data. That beat the previous record of 298 set in 2012, according to the report.

Women stepping up to serve their communities are also inspiring the next generation of leaders. Manisha Sunil is a 20-year-old student at the University of Maryland and the co-founder of her school’s chapter of IGNITE, an organization that encourages young women to get politically involved. She is set to participate in the Courage to Run 5K with friends. “Courage to Run is a perfect example of the power that women have when they come together and their strength, both mentally and physically,” says Sunil, who has been a runner since high school. “Events like Courage to Run tell young women not to be afraid of their strength and encourage them to embrace it.”

The race’s theme of strength has been inspired in part by Edgette’s own struggles. Running, she says, helped her rebuild strength when she was recovering from an eating disorder. She recalls running around Hyde Park in London and being amazed by the ability of her body, despite years of damage from her horrible disease. “I never thought I would be able to do that,” she says.

For more information on the run, visit couragetorun.org.

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