This past Saturday, to mark International Women’s Day, we took to the streets to run – and what a run it turned out to be!
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Elle and I announced on Instagram that we’d be doing a run, open to all, to celebrate women. By the next day, we’d been contacted by friends in running crews all over the world asking if they could take the idea global, to which, we of course said ‘HELL YEAH!’
We watched the momentum build on social media in the run up to the big day. As each day passed, we heard of more and more women getting on board. It was incredible, women everywhere were gathering their friends and planning a run.
By the time International Women’s Day rolled around, we had runs happening in over 37 cities around the globe. From Brunei to Tobego, Chicago to Hong Kong, Addis Ababa to Moscow and seemingly everywhere in between. Talk about a MOVEMENT!
For our London run, we had over 60 women (and two awesome dudes!) come along. The theme of our run was to stop at the blue plaque houses of women who’ve lived in London throughout history and created change.
We started at Green Park, where we ran to the house of Madame D’Arblay (maiden name Fanny Burney – best name ever!). She was a novelist, playwright and diarist (which I kinda think makes her one of the first bloggers!) in the 1700s. Her books explored the lives of English aristocrats and satirised their social pretensions. Scholars still value her diaries for their candid depictions of 18th century life.
Next, we ran to Marble Arch and stopped at the blue plaque house of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to qualify as a doctor in Britain. Starting as surgical nurse in 1860, she was unsuccessful in trying to get into any medical school, so continued her studies privately. Eventually, she was allowed into the hospital apothecary, where she was most definitely not welcomed by the male students. In 1865, she took her exam and obtained a licence from the Society of Apothecaries to practice medicine. Of the seven people who took the exam that day, only three passed and Garrett Anderson had the highest marks. The Society of Apothecaries immediately amended its regulations to prevent other women obtaining a licence. Classy!
From there, we ran through Hyde Park and down to the Holland Park area, for our third and final stop on our route, the home of the legendary Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, leaders of the Suffragette movement. The Women’s Social and Political Union, founded by Emmeline, were notorious for smashing windows and assaulting police officers. They were repeatedly arrested and always staged hunger strikes for better conditions. In 1918, women over 30 were granted the vote. Emmeline died in 1928, just weeks before the law was amended to grant the vote to all women over the age of 21.
And with that, we ended our 4 mile historical jaunt around London. A great time was had by all and there have been calls for us to make this a yearly event, which Elle and I are only too happy to oblige.
We created a Tumblr, #IWDRun, where images from all the runs that took place across the globe on Saturday are being streamed. Make sure you check it out. It’s pretty inspiring stuff.
Roll on next year!
Special thanks to the incredible Michael Adeyeye for the video