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Written By Clare Wilkes - June 30 2021
with Brooklyn Crick in Vancouver and McKinnley Morris in MontrealWhen Project Love Run (PLR) founder Filsan Abdiaman began her vision in 2016, she was joined by a small group of women who wanted to run, have brunch, and discuss important issues that related to both running and their space as women in society. Now, there are monthly PLR events in five cities across Canada, and hundreds of women have the opportunity to connect with like-minded others in a safe space.As we at Vancouver Running Company have got to know Filsan and the PLR community, we have had the opportunity to connect with some of the incredible women who have been a part of the runs, discussions, brunches and support PLR wholeheartedly. As we grow our VRC and Flight Crew community, we want to give a voice to some of the women who are part of PLR, and help others understand just how much it has brought to their running journey.
photo: Shadoe Huard
McKinnley Morris (Montreal)McKinnley has been running with PLR Montreal since their very first run in the summer of 2020. She heard about PLR through Marjorie Jean-Louis, the leader of the Montreal runs, via another run crew (Yamajo, in Little Burgundy). ‘Marge was someone I looked up to immensely for both her running talent, and because she exemplifies such excellence. Marge has always been a staple in my Montreal running community. When I saw that she would be leading an initiative here in Montreal that embodied my values, I immediately knew that I would be at every run.’ Having not thought of herself as a runner until 2 years ago, the power of Marge’s influence as someone she could identify with in the run community was a huge factor in starting (and continuing) to run with PLR. ‘I identify as a Black, Cis-gendered woman occupying the unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka Communities. As I continue to explore my identities, I hope to find a collection of communities that will help me continue to grow into my whole self. It's really important to me that the spaces that I am in represent me.’
A fundamental part of PLR is connecting the mind to the body as we run, and many of the topics covered in the post-run discussions are around body image and subjects that aren’t typically talked about in relation to running, but are very much a part of the holistic nature of PLR’s approach. McKinnley explains: ‘I have a lot more gratitude for my body than I ever had previously. I used to be a varsity athlete, and so have a complex history with my body and athletics. My body was a tool, fitness was a reflection of obligation and dedication, injury was weakness, and often ignored. The fact that there's no set distance or performance goals at PLR for the runs means I have to run by feel - a learning curve that I've enjoyed. The way that we start and end runs demands a level of respect for my body as a whole instead of a string of body parts that could “fail me” when I don't meet a performance standard that I've set for myself.’ Those who attend the PLR events are without a doubt connected by running, but the brunch and discussions are what really bring everyone together. ‘The community aspect of PLR is what I enjoy the most, and the way womanhood is explored. There's a sense of togetherness at this time in our lives where we're so separated. Regardless of what is going to be discussed, we're going to discuss it together in a way that permits everyone to share their own experiences in a judgement free space.’
Brooklyn Crick (Vancouver) In the short time since Brooklyn joined her first PLR event, she has been reminded of how strong her body is, and how much she is capable of. ‘I found PLR through Instagram, and was attracted to the brunch with women of all backgrounds, having thoughtful discussions and a common interest in running. I hoped it would be a way to meet other women in the running community.’ ‘In addition to being a runner, I identify as Black, female, and endosister (the endometriosis community). Through my work, I belong to groups for BIPOC individuals, and for self-identifying womxn, families and allies in tech.’ PLR events have a way of making participants feel differently about their runs - simple things such as a pre-run check-in and setting intentions for the run help to make you feel grounded, and focused on your mindset rather than how fast or far you’re running. Brooklyn’s experience reflects this - ‘PLR runs invite me to be introspective as I move. This has made for a more pleasant experience beyond just training and traditional physical activity. I find I am more in the moment when I am asking reflection questions before, during and after my run.’
For many of the women who attend PLR events, they have never run with a run crew before, so the brunch and post-run discussions are a way to connect and understand more about the people they are running with, especially while things are still taking place virtually. For Brooklyn, food is a huge part of how she values the community: ‘I love that the conversations happen over brunch, and I appreciate the open forum of discussion and topics. All my experiences have had a range of perspectives brought in to really make for interesting conversations.’ ‘PLR has gone beyond just running’ - Brooklyn sums up exactly what the events are all about. ‘I appreciate the other members of the community and what they bring to the experience. I enjoy the discussion aspect, and the supportiveness of the group (rather than competitiveness).’Project Love Run has chapters in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal, meeting monthly for a run, followed by themed discussions over brunch. To find out more and to sign up for an event, visit www.projectloverun.com. Membership options are now available.