Langley trio team up to inspire others
It began as a simple website two years ago.
"Just a place to post workouts and recipes and little motivational things," explained Hailey Van Dyk.
"We just thought it would be our friends."
Van Dyk collaborated with Courtney Burt on the website, Run Like A Girl.
The pair graduated from R.E. Mountain Secondary a year apart — the 25-year-old Burt in 2006 and the 24-year-old Van Dyk in 2007 — but they weren't friends in high school.
They reconnected a few years later, through Facebook, when Van Dyk saw pictures of Burt running and asked to join her as a running partner.
Friendship and a website — which was launched on Aug. 5 two years ago — followed.
The website's popularity dramatically increased after a popular North Vancouver clothing company, Arc'teryx, shared one of Run Like A Girl's photos.
"Just from that, we exploded overnight," Van Dyk said.
"It was crazy. We went international."
The website's mission is to "inspire others to embrace fitness and health as a holistic lifestyle of the body, mind and soul."
A third partner, Dayna Egyed, joined the pair in their endeavor soon after.
The 38-year-old, who grew up in Aldergrove and graduated from Aldergrove Community Secondary School, met Van Dyk through a race and heard about the website and was soon helping out.
Run Like A Girl works to not only promote a healthy and active lifestyle, but to also encourage others to give back to the community.
"Changing the world is hard on your own, so we enable our community to help us, by offering multiple ways to raise awareness and build support for the millions of people in need around the world," the website reads.
They have done three fundraisers.
The biggest was selling T-shirts they had made to support the bombing victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Those shirts raised $10,000 and the money was donated to the victims of that attack.
They have also held two 5-km and 10-km races in Fort Langley, raising $3,500 and $3,000, respectively, in the fight against breast cancer and childhood brain cancer.
The races allow people from around the world to take part.
"We do offer an option for our local runners and then on the same day, our virtual runners from around the world also run," Burt explained.
Each out-of-town participant receives a racing bib, medal and T-shirt before they begin.
Many times the runners then send a photo to the website.
Some of the participating runners have come from all across Canada, the United States, New Zealand and even a few women from a military base in Afghanistan.
The feedback the Run Like A Girl organizers have received keeps them going.
"Sometimes we don't feel we are helping very much, but then we get all these messages and realize we are and it is a great feeling," Egyed said.
Burt said the biggest satisfaction is knowing they are helping others.
"There is satisfaction in knowing we are raising money and donating it for a very good cause," she said.
"And this is providing an opportunity for people to give back to their community."
They are already planning their next event, which will be a run in Fort Langley on Oct. 5 in support of breast cancer research.
They are also planning a seven-day adventure camp in November in Costa Rica from Nov. 9 to 15.
The camp is focused on getting people outdoors and active, perhaps even trying some new things.
This particular camp will feature things like trail running, yoga and repelling canyons and waterfalls. Every night, the campers will debrief about the day, such as what they learned, what they shared and what they experienced.
In addition, the participants will also go to one of the small towns nearby and so some humanitarian work.
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