Nothing frustrated Gina Lucrezi more than flipping through a running magazine: It seemed every story was about performance and every photo showed a man toeing the starting line. When the Buena Vista trail runner did spot a woman, she was either an Olympian or a tad too sculpted to be real. “Some women see that,” Lucrezi says, “and wonder if they belong.”

If the publications were trying to mirror the running community, they sure didn’t reflect the female athletes Lucrezi knew. Her pals peppered workouts with talk about mile-splits and energy gels, yes, but they also delved into personal topics, such as training after a cesarean section or jogging as an outlet for grief. Determined to give those discussions a platform, in 2016 Lucrezi launched Trail Sisters, a website of essays written by and for everyday women. Her friends penned the first five posts then encouraged their friends to submit. (Lucrezi doesn’t pay her scribes.) To date, the virtual snowball has gained more than 200 contributors who share stories about body image, trekking poles, and more. The tales clearly resonate—about 17,000 people visit Trail Sisters each month.

The site’s most impressive accomplishment has been its ability to foster fellowship in real life. Today, around 90 Trail Sisters chapters across the country gather to log miles; a trail-race calendar lists competitions that treat women fairly (criteria include an equal number of podium spots for men and women); and Lucrezi hosts multiday running retreats in Boulder. Lucrezi will
embark on a Merrell-sponsored speaking tour this month to seven U.S. cities, starting in Denver on April 7. Her goal? Expand the sisterhood to include hikers and backpackers, who can find essays for their sets in the site’s new hiking section. Because, as Lucrezi says, “Trail Sisters is about celebrating any woman who puts foot to dirt”—no matter how fast her feet are moving.

Reduce, Reuse, Run

The original Vander Jacket/ Photo courtesy of Irwin Peralta

An Aurora designer is out to make you the coolest-looking, most eco-friendly runner on the trail.

Fast fashion lives up to its name: About 11 million tons of textiles go to U.S. landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, much of it cheap, trendy garments from stores such as H&M. Sarah Vander Neut is diverting some of that cloth from the heap by using it to make coats so durable and cool you’ll never have to (or want to) throw them away.

A runner and fashion designer, Vander Neut founded Vander Jacket in 2011. Pregnant and tired of wearing her husband’s baggy sweatshirts, she used extra fabric to make a cute, roomy running coat. People—even those not expecting—noticed and asked for their own.

Nine years later, Vander Neut has made nearly 1,000 jackets, each with discarded materials like fabric donated to thrift stores. The results are funkier than mass-produced threads: Cheetah-print cuffs may accent a pink hoodie, for example, while others look quiltlike. The apparel boasts runner-friendly features, too, like sleeves with watch holes, ensuring you don’t have to choose between style, sub-stance, and sustainability. From $53, —Caitlin Foster

Editor’s note: This article appeared in the April issue of 5280, which went to press before COVID-19 became the biggest story in recent memory. As such, some events and dates listed may now be out of date. For more on how 5280 is shifting coverage during this time, read Editorial Director Geoff Van Dyke’s editor’s note.