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Running with the girls proving to be a fun time for Natalie Parsons

Natalie Parsons takes a run along a trail near her Corner Brook home Tuesday afternoon. Parsons is one of 34 girls who are members of a female exclusive running group for girls ages 7-12 years of age.
Natalie Parsons takes a run along a trail near her Corner Brook home Tuesday afternoon. Parsons is one of 34 girls who are members of a female exclusive running group for girls ages 7-12 years of age.

Running with a bunch of young girls on a regular basis is something Natalie Parsons believes is in her best interest so she has no problem hitting the pavement every chance she gets.

Parsons, a 10-year-old Corner Brook native, is one 34 girls who are members of the West Coast GIRL (Girls Into Running for Life) Run Club — which follows the model of the GIRL NL Run Club founded by Holly Foley of St. John’s nine years ago.

Foley’s program was designed for junior high school students, but she revamped the program for the west coast group who had determined it was better to have it for younger females in the Corner Brook area because that’s where the most interest came from in her initial conversations with parents.

“I like to run because I think it’s a great activity that you can do with your friends and it’s also a healthy activity,” Parsons said Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s really fun to be outside and to be doing stuff like running.”

The group gets together for a run every Monday night 6 p.m. at the old Participark trail system behind Grenfell Campus, which is one of the sponsors and supporters of the group.

The girls are entering into Week 5 of the 10-week program and Parsons is having a lot of fun learning how to become a good runner and sharing the road with some of her female friends. She is learning the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the benefits that come from participation, which is being stressed to the girls more so than who is faster than anyone else.

It’s not about final clockings at the finish line. The group starts a run together and finishes together.

It’s a group of girls sharing a common bond with active living and eating high on the priority list of those involved in a fun environment.

“I like that everybody knows each other and we can hang out together,” she said.

While the focus of the group is to introduce young girls to the sport and give them a sense of how they build endurance step by step, Parsons has a competitive edge to her so she looks forward to participating in races down the road to see how she fares against her peers.

“I want to be able to race and see how fast I can go and see if I can beat other people,” she said.

Kailey Pauls is one of a handful of avid runners who wanted to get the group going on the west coast because she has two daughters. Sophie is an active participant, but six-year-old Madeline has another year to wait before she can join.

She talked with other parents who are into running and quickly realized that there was enough interest to forge ahead with a group geared towards fun for female runners.

“We thought this was a way of getting them out together as peers,” Pauls said. “We’ve been able to take what Holly has been doing in St. John’s for a number of years and kind of run with that so that’s been great.”

These young girls have worked hard to build up their endurance towards the end of the program, which will see them wrap up the season by participating in the annual Terry Fox Run in a distance based on their running ability.

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