“Women on the Run” Creates a Positive Impact on Campus!

Nicole Letendre ’23

Chief Features Editor 

Women on the Run

With contributions by Joy LaGrutta, Assistant Director of Student Wellness

Holy Cross’ “Women on the Run” program is a community of 30+ students, who attend 6am group runs on Wednesday mornings with the goal of completing a half marathon race held next week in Gloucester, MA. Their first group run in February was 4 miles. Recently, this group of women completed their final training run of 12 miles. In light of the 50th anniversary of coeducation at the college, the “Women on the Run” program actively works to encourage the continued accomplishments of women.  

The group is led by staff members Joy LaGrutta, Assistant Director of Student Wellness Education, and Alexandra Weld, Nurse Practitioner at Health Services, who have been friends and marathon running partners for years.  Their goal was to share their love of running and demonstrate the ways in which that strength can be applied to all aspects of life: setting goals, building confidence, establishing discipline, and maintaining perseverance, etc. 

According to Joy LaGrutta, “When we first advertised the group, we were completely blown away that 85 women signed up for this. The interest, and dedicated participation have been amazing.  We were able to enroll 40 students and 5 staff members in the group.  It has been phenomenal to watch how strong and capable they have all become.  They show up at 5:50am on Wednesday mornings ready to run, and each week we have gone further and further.  There is no doubt in my mind that we will all cross that finish line next week.”

Students who signed up for the group are provided bus transportation, registration to the race, along with fuel and hydration at each of the long runs.  In addition, the group posts photos, inspiration, and accomplishments on their Instagram page, which has built a following of students, parents, and others looking to cheer on these women. Alexandra Weld added, “I have really loved getting to run with these students and getting to know them better.  This whole experience has been so fun, and I am so proud of each of these students.  I know they will all be runners for life now, and that is something really special to pass on.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask student runners, along with Professor Sarah Petty of the Chemistry Department, a few questions, regarding the “Women on the Run” program and their passion for pushing themselves and building community:

How would you describe the community aspect of this program?

“The community aspect is the biggest motivator to get out of bed at 5:30am. I’ve been so impressed with how supportive everyone is. No matter your speed or your experience with running, every single person cheers you on as you run and when you finish. It’s so rewarding to have that kind of support.” 

~Mary Conant ‘23

What has been your favorite part of “Women on the Run”?

“My favorite part of “Women on the Run” has simply been trying something new. After our long runs every Wednesday, I always think to myself, “Hey I did something today that I’ve never done before!” It really is a great feeling. I definitely feel a sense of community in the program. Joy and Alex have cultivated a safe and inclusive environment and I always look forward to seeing them at 6am on Wednesdays :). Everyone supports everyone, no matter how fast they are! One thing I’ll take away from this experience is I can truly do anything I put my mind to. If you had asked me 4 months ago whether I could run even just 4 miles, I would have laughed in your face! LOL.”

~Riley Peck ‘24

“Aside from getting to see the sunrise, I think my favorite part of Women on the Run has been the feeling I get after I finish one of our morning runs. Even if I didn’t want to get out of bed or I didn’t feel like I had my best run that day, I feel so good when I’m done. It’s a really nice way to clear my head and it sets me up to have a good day.

The community aspect of this program has been really encouraging. Everyone cheers each other on in passing, regardless of whether you’re a lap ahead or behind the other person. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to stick with it if I didn’t have the group to hold me accountable and to make things fun.

I think that one thing I’ll take from this experience is remembering that oftentimes the things we have to push ourselves to do are also the most rewarding.”

~Kate Millard ‘25

“My favorite part of being a part of WOTR is that I get to be held accountable and encouraged by this amazing group of girls! Getting together at 6am every Wednesday to run insane distances is the most challenging part of my week, but I look forward to it and will miss it immensely. Being a part of this group has taught me resilience and that even things I thought I could never do can and will get done.” 

~Delia Drace ‘25

“My favorite part has been witnessing the motivation and support students provide each other. It’s not easy to get up so early after a long night of homework but you’re all doing it, every week, and are always cheering each other on as we grind out the miles. As faculty, we see the support you provide each other in the classroom, but it has been wonderful to see it happening outside the classroom as well. It’s also been good to push myself to try and keep up with all of your (much) younger legs!”

~Sarah Petty Associate Professor of Chemistry

What will you take from this experience after Holy Cross/throughout life? 

“Being so close to graduating, I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity and to have met such an inspiring group of women to close out my time at Holy Cross. It’s made me realize that we can truly do anything we set our minds to, and I know this mindset will help me both personally and professionally as I transition to life after college.”  

~Mary Conant ‘23

For more information on this group, or for future opportunities to participate, please contact Joy LaGrutta in the Office of Student Wellness Education.

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