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'You’re not going to be judged': 'Slow' running group off to a fast start

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Speed is on runner Katherine Gillis’ radar, but not in the way you might think.

When the Dartmouth, N.S., woman wrapped up training with the Emera Blue Nose Marathon in May, she wanted to keep her progress going.

“I tried to find some running groups, but most run at a much faster pace that I can’t keep up with,” said Gillis. “So, I decided that I should make my own, in the hopes that other people might join us.”

On May 27 she created the ‘Dartmouth Slow AF Running Group’, inviting anyone to join her, and one friend, at Grahams Grove.

“I made it on a Monday, I had 3 runners come out that Monday. I posted again, we’ll do it again on Wednesday, and then we had about 18 come out. Then last week was our second week, we had 40 at one run, and 30 at the next. This is our third week going into it.”

The cheeky, blunt name quickly attracted runners. Within three weeks, more than 500 people have joined the club’s Facebook page, including Trina Griggs.

“A lot of time you have run groups that they say they’re slow, or all welcoming, but then, you go and you’re left behind,” said Griggs. “It gets discouraging. But this one, just because of the name, you feel like you’re welcome.”

It’s very similar to messages creator Gillis has received.

“I did not expect that kind of response. It got shared on Facebook, Instagram, and it took right off. I’ve had hundreds of messages from people saying how awesome this is, how much they needed it.”

Runners are pictured gathered outside the Kiwanis Grahams Grove Community Building on June 10, 2024.

On Monday, more than 40 runners gathered outside the Kiwanis Grahams Grove Community Building.

“We joined pretty quickly,” said runner Mike Stephens. “My wife and I were looking for something to do, that’s not at a better pace. So, kind of crazy how fast it grew.”

After a group introduction, route rundown, and welcome by Gillis, the runners gathered together for a group photo, before beginning their 2.5 km or 5 km run along Lake Banook toward downtown Dartmouth.

Gillis says group members hold between a 6:00 min/km pace, to 11:00 min/km, with walking breaks.

“For a lot of us who run in the back, it can be a really isolating feeling,” explains Gillis. “It sucks sometimes to feel that you’re not good enough to keep up with anybody. So this has been such a great group, because you are keeping up with the majority of the people, or if you are in the back, there are people with you.”

The majority of the group does not disperse after their run is done. Most stayed put, cheering on the runners finishing, until the group was back together.

“Just come out and try it. You’re not going to be judged by any of us here,” adds Gillis. “We all start somewhere. This is the perfect place to start.”

The Dartmouth Slow AF Running Group meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30 pm.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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