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How One Race Turned Into A Gigantic Women’s Retreat

Connections, support and rejuvenating runs are on tap this weekend in Arizona.

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More than 150 women from all over the country are headed to Scottsdale, Ariz., for a long weekend at the Rock Retreat Run, put on by the founders of Fellow Flowers. Women’s Running will be there too.

Fellow Flowers started three years ago when 13 girlfriends ran a half marathon together. They all wore orange Gerber daisies so their friends and family would easily be able to spot them. This was the beginning of a unifying sisterhood that now extends to about 25,000 women. Mel Charbonneau and Tori Sager (two of the original 13) started this movement to encourage women to tap into their running stories and support one another.

Women have found out about Fellow Flowers through one another and at race expos, and there are 12 colors of flowers to choose from based on different meanings. For example, the original orange is “fiercely united,” purple is “no excuses,” pink is “gratitude” and white is “dreamer.” A 13th color will sprout this weekend at the retreat.

This year the movement goes well beyond $12 reusable flowers to clip on a racing cap or in your hair. At its core, Fellow Flowers is about women connecting, putting one foot in front of the other and encouraging each other along the way, so a retreat is a natural progression. Charbonneau and Sager have programmed a Thursday-through-Sunday event that’s packed with opportunities to learn, share and connect.

The mornings begin with a bevvy of exercise options, such as running (of course!), yoga and summiting nearby Camelback Mountain. The days include conference-style sessions that range from workshops, on topics such as treadmills and essential oils for runners, to personal inspiration with experts to facilitate introspection and growth. Each evening has a different theme and culminates with a keynote by NBC’s weekend “Today” anchor Erica Hill.

Because we can’t resist sharing some little healthy treats with all of the women at the retreat, we’re making a few batches of these energy bites (hopefully these will lure some women to a Q&A with WR on Sunday morning—plus we’ll be giving away some WR swag and books from VeloPress!).

Two-Bite Energy Balls

You can get creative with these based on the flavors you like and vary the proportions as well as the ingredients. Skip the shredded coconut if you’re not a big fan, since the coconut butter adds some flavor and helps everything bind together. Some of you may need to up the chocolate (you know who you are!).

Makes about 15 balls

2/3 cup pitted dates (about 7 large dates)

1/3 cup dried tart cherries

1/4 cup nut butter (preferably chunky!)

1 Tbsp. coconut butter

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Toss everything into a food processor and run long enough that everything is completely mixed up. Roll into small two-bite balls and refrigerate till ready to serve.

If you liked this recipe, check out a similar one from Running With Veggies.