Running is boring. Dreadfully. At least that’s what a young Gina Lucrezi thought when she imagined plugging away mile after mile, measuring time in worn layers of rubber and sweat. This was before becoming a collegiate All-American (10 times). Before becoming a collegiate national champion in the 1500 meter. Before the 10k’s and the half marathons. Before discovering trail running. Before the 50k’s, 50 milers, and 100k’s. Before it all.

Before running, it was team sports. Ever the competitor, Gina found field hockey, rough and tumble, to be the perfect outlet. Her parents encouraged her to train for the sport with a little cardio. Gina was uninterested.

Running? The same motion over and over again? No thanks. When her parents offered her a crisp $5 to run a mile around their neighborhood block she came home having covered two and demanding $10 instead.

More than the quick cash, a small fire sparked to life that slowly morphed into a lifelong passion.

Gina found running more agreeable than she imagined, even the individual nature of it. With the steps and success she found in running, the more attractive it became, and while she was slow to fall completely in love with it, meeting new friends and beginning to compete only accelerated the process. She excelled in high school and joined a team in college running her way 10 All-American honors in cross country and the mile and becoming the D3 national champion in the 1500.

For such speedy, demanding events, though, Gina knew her competitive career in the shorter distances was coming to a close. Post-college, with a masters in sports management focused in marketing, Gina moved to Colorado Springs to intern with the US Olympic committee. And there, once again, an introduction to something new provided the pivot that would launch not only a new love, but a new mission.

During her competitive college years, Gina was never allowed to trail run. Too hazardous for ankles, not right for training and speed. But in Colorado Springs it became a way to make new running friends. Eventually working her way into a job with Trail Runner Magazine where she met her work friend, training partner, and housemate, Ashley Arnold. Though thoroughly entranced with trail running, Arnold’s interest in ultra-running and racing gave Gina the motivation she needed to find a new outlet for competition, but in a completely new way.

The distance, the suffering, the sheer amount of time spent with friends and runners on the trails changed the way she thought about competitions. It became more about relationships than times or places. The training was different, the races were different. Still competitive, this type of running didn’t feel like the job it was in college. It was more than cranking out five-milers and tempo runs. She found progression, and growth and a drive to explore and share these experiences with more people.

Gina set out to help provide the same support system and community she found in trail running to other women. It bothered her to find a lack of advertising and marketing to women in the trail running industry. She always heard the same tired excuses, “Women don’t engage, they don’t participate.” Her marketing background and experience with her own community betrayed that notion. Believing that if you connect with them, if you speak to this audience, they will respond and engage, she started Trail Sisters in April of 2016. She started it to create change in an industry that needed dedicated spaces for women. She started it to provide women a place where they could engage and be inspired by trail running and the other women who do it. She started it to lower the barrier of entry and give women a community to rely on. Trail Sisters, now a thriving community, hosts multiple retreats per year across the US, and even sponsors a trail running grant in support of women and their trail running adventures.

From that first $5 bet to now, Gina has found more than just an individual sport with individual benefits. She found a real, spiritual, cultural connection with a community of people. It’s that community that gets her outside every day to kick up a little dirt, share a conversation in the woods or mountains, and run after that intersection where purpose and passion finally meet.

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