Facebook group 'Sioux Falls Women Run' changes the game for local runners

There is a local community of runners thanks to the power of social media. It's a Facebook group called 'Sioux Falls Women Run' (SFWR) founded in 2016 to coordinate group runs.

They are a force to be reckoned with.

Today, with just under 2,000 members, the group has evolved into an official training team and nonprofit organization with its own board of directors, sponsor partners and women empowering women that could go on for miles.

Not even February in South Dakota can stop these women from hitting the pavement.

"Ten to fifteen degrees below-zero, these women are out there and it's awesome," Toni Fritz said.

This year, we did a New Year's Run. Twenty-three below-zero with wind temperature. It has to be pretty stormy to stop us," SFWR Member Allison Weber said.

During a recent Saturday morning run, it was a 'balmy' 26-degrees and cloudy. They say it was perfect for a group run.

"It's good motivation to have someone come out during these temperatures. Nice to have the accountability of the other ladies. To have someone to push you," Runner Allison Weber said.

Sioux Falls Women Run is a social media group turned community wide movement with running at its core. While it's 'private', it's inviting to all female runners.

"We say bring your own pace but nobody gets left behind. If you get the courage to try your first group run and you're an 11-minute-mile, that's no problem," SFWR Social Media Director Kate Patrick said.

But its mission extends beyond running. Early on, leaders of the group proposed the idea of community service.

"You post about it and all of a sudden, these women are on board. They participate, they show up with money and donations and toys. You had to ask once. That's the really cool part of this group and what we stand for is giving back to this community that gives back to us as well," Patrick said.

The group would soon transform into a registered nonprofit in 2016. They organize activities from nutrition education to community service. They even manage the only all-women training team in town.

"Our board meets monthly and we talk about those key components and how we'll execute how we'll get that done," SFWR Executive Director and head trainer Jacqui Meadors said.

The board of Sioux Falls Women Run credits part of its success to its sponsors. 605 Running Company and Sanford Health are their biggest partners.

We're the home base. We offer up the store, we have specials and special events. A place that can be a home base and place to connect, they have a place to go and that's where we come in," 605 Running Company owner Greg Koch said

Owner Greg Koch says women make up 75% of the business.

There's a huge population and there's a lot of community there. It only makes sense for us to be involved with the club because we are providing service they need and it works out well," Koch said.

Sanford Health was the initial sponsor and serves to provide funds, training programs and services through the sports science institute including Sanford POWER, running analysis, dietitians, and more. The board says Sanford has been a key sponsor and supporter of the group's success providing services to its members free of charge.

Year 'round, this group continues to evolve from the running to its reach in the community.

"It's refreshing and overwhelming. It's nice to know there is this platform for women to have some sort of change, rejuvenation," Meadors said. "As we grow up, Sometimes people lose track of who they are and then they find something that means so much to them in more ways than one."

Teaming up for another marathon or running for the very first time, members say SFWR has formed life-long friendships.

"Running is a part of who I am but it's not the only thing that I am. For me, this group has helped me grow and explore various possibilities of what I can do," Meadors said.

Pushing limits one mile at a time.

"It's truly life-changing. The running part is awesome. The fitness, being active, is great. It's so much more than that. It's the friendships, giving back to the community and surrounding yourself with people that encourage each other, build each other up versus bringing anybody down," Patrick said.

The member count of SFWR grows by the week but the board keeps a close eye to make sure that their vision stays consistent with their growth.

For more information including a link to the group's page and website, visit the 'related links' section of this page.