When Wilsonville resident Jules Moody helped start the Sole Sisters all-female walking and running group 11 years ago, 12 women showed up to the first session.
To Moody's delight, the group has grown rapidly since then — expanding to 15 cities in the Portland area and attracting over 2,000 current or former members.
"It's fulfilled a calling I have to connect women and fitness in my community," Moody said. "I get excited showing up, seeing the faces and working toward a common goal together."
Now, Moody and others are gearing up for another season of fitness with friends.
The West Linn/Lake Oswego group will meet at 7:50 a.m. at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn starting Feb. 8 until a final event May 16 that features either a 5-kilometer, 10k or half-marathon run at Cook Park in Tualatin.
The group's kickoff event will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at Road Runner Sports in Tualatin.
Moody said the opening event is a great time to meet the coaches and other participants.
The group is open to all women — the oldest member is 79 — and participants can trek at their own pace. There are coaches at each session who provide pointers and encouragement.
"You can be a beginner and show up and feel like you can complete it," Moody said.
Moody said participants also do not have to attend every week and can join late. There also will be accompanying workshops on aspects like hydration and proper footwork. The distance for workout sessions will increase each week.
Participants also can apply to become a coach.
"I meet with you and talk with you about your interest and get a feel for if you're an encouraging leader. If you feel like it's your calling and passion, I'm open to having you do it," Moody said.
Maybe more than physical fitness, Moody said women return each year to Sole Sisters because of the personal connections they forge during the season.
"You come because you know someone is going to be there waiting for you. Our tagline is 'Doing life in step together,'" Moody said.
"Each week you're meeting new people in your town, and then you build those connections in your community. It makes you want to keep showing up even on those cold winter mornings."
Outside of West Linn and Lake Oswego, there are Sole Sisters groups in Beaverton/Hillsboro, Canby, Newberg, Oregon City, Salem/Keizer, Sherwood, Tigard/Tualatin, Wilsonville and Woodburn/Gervais.
For more information, visit https://solesisters.us/.
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