April 2021 marks the five-year anniversary of Trail Sisters, the brain child of trail runner Gina Lucrezi who started the company as an online journal and, she says, “a way to have more women’s voices be heard in the sport of trail running.” Since the site launch, Lucrezi and husband Justin Patrick Keller have grown the business into a booming community, selling branded merchandise, hosting presentations and fun-runs (pre-pandemic) aimed at making more women feel comfortable on the trails, expanding the website to an extensive resource hub, and partnering with brands on creative initiatives.
In March, Trail Sisters and outdoor company The North Face announced a unique collaboration: a childcare grant that would award six moms $150 to put toward getting outside and in nature in any way they needed.
“It’s not a crazy amount of money,” says Lucrezi, “but it’s like, ‘Hey, here’s something for you that helps you get outside. If you’re training for a race, or if you need some ‘me’ time, or maybe you just need fresh air.”
Applicants (197 of them, as of March 29) filled out an online form expressing things like how their ability to venture out has changed since they’ve become a mother. The forms are entered into a spreadsheet for anonymity, with winners narrowed down by Lucrezi, a panel of other Trail Sisters, and a small committee at The North Face. Six moms will be announced and awarded the first $150 on April 14, but it doesn’t stop there.
Lucrezi and The North Face opened up the idea of the grant, and supporting moms, to the Trail Sisters community and received an additional $1,500 in donations toward the cause. The North Face is matching that amount to $500, and more grants will be awarded both this quarter and next — the childcare grants will be awarded four times a year. The application process for the second round ends May 31.
“I don’t have any kids, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sympathize with moms and what they go through,” Lucrezi says. She explains how, through Trail Sisters and all the work they do, she’d been talking with people day after day about participation in sport and why it’s low in some areas. “The biggie is time and just being a parent and being a mother,” she says. “Not across the board, but traditionally and usually, women carry the child-rearing and workload that comes with it more than men. That’s not to say there aren’t dudes out there who crush it.”
“Again, it’s not a ton of money,” she says of the $150 grant, “but it’s something. If we can just give someone a better day, that goes a long away, especially with where we are these days.”
Making a Difference
The grant may not be much financial assistance in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a gesture that aligns with Lucrezi’s mission for Trail Sisters, which is all about getting more women out on trails.
Lucrezi explains that she started the organization because of personal experiences within the outdoor industry as an athlete and professional. She’d worked in marketing, magazines, and PR, had been a trail running team manager for a brand, and a sponsored runner herself. “I had every possible view in the space and saw there was a very large void when it came to the female perspective and voice,” she says. “I am a passionate person; I get upset pretty easily. I got upset. But instead of just being angry, I thought I should do something about it.”
What she did was create the online platform where she and seven other female trail runners wrote blog-style posts, what she calls, her “own little platform to get some voices involved to share their thoughts and opinions and go from there. I wanted to create a solution to make things better.”
That platform grew, and content on Trailsisters.net began covering issues like unequal prize money between genders, women’s safety on the trails, and eating disorders among athletes. The website, along with a couple van tours around the country to spread the word, grew.
“I just felt like there were so many people out there looking for something to be included… people who maybe weren’t top-three at a race, or had X-amount of influencers. Trail Sisters gives members an automatic friend you can count on.”
She was right. There are currently 120 local Trail Sisters groups, roughly 45,000 members—it’s a free membership — and roughly 5,500 on the Trail Sisters’ Community site. “We’ve come a long way in what seems like a short amount of time,” says Lucrezi.
What’s Next for Trail Sisters
A Trail Sisters app is in the works and will launch in April, and is being built through a community platform platform “for one-tap access to our site and community platform. You won’t have to deal with non-topic related posts, or security issues with big business taking your information and selling you ads with random stuff, etc.,” Lucrezi says.
In June, the Trail Sisters website will have an expanded Resource Center, offering educational courses where users will be able to learn about topics like safety — both in the backcountry and in an urban environment; gear; and conservation/environmentalism.
“Education is really important to me, and is a big part of the site,” says Lucrezi. (The resource section of the site currently includes a race calendar, “Find a Running Coach,” and “Women’s Running Films” sections.) “I feel like if we had more education in the space, more people — and women in particular — would be out on the trails. I want to create a solution,” she says.
This coming September, Lucrezi and Keller will host the first women’s-only trail running race, dubbed the “Trail Sisters Trail Half-Marathon” in Buena Vista, California, where the two live and also volunteer with the local Search and Rescue.
And also in April of this year, Trail Sisters and Altra Running are partnering for what’s called, “2,021 Hours for the Planet,” an initiative effort of contributing 2,021 volunteer hours of trail cleanup and maintenance. More brand collaborations like this and the childcare grant are in the works.
Joining Trail Sisters at any time is free because Lucrezi’s goal has always been to have the least amount of barriers to entry to get women involved in sport. “If you want to be a Trail Sister, you’re a Trail Sister,” she says.