Silvia Ruegger recounts her journey from Canadian Olympian to children’s activist and tells the tale of how women’s running caught its stride.
August 5th 1984, the site of the start of the Women’s Olympic Marathon was pregnant with hope; the steps these 50 women would take from Santa Monica College to the Olympic Stadium 26.2 miles away were progress for women. Prior to 1984, the furthest running event for women at the Olympic Games was 1500 meters—the equivalent of 3 ¾ laps of a high school track.
I was often the lone participant in cross country events from my high school. Growing up in the country, my mom drove the car behind me at 6:00 a.m. with the headlights on, creating a path for me to run on those dark country concessions.
At the 1984 Olympics, our desire was to inspire all women to believe that they could run regardless of age, background, ethnicity or talent. It’s the journey that changes how girls see what they’re capable of: courage, perseverance, resiliency, determination.
As my mom shone the light for me, I work with Start2Finish to do that for others. Mothers, daughters and grandmothers, neighbours and co-workers are inspiring each other to engage in this journey together. I tip my hat towards the future of women’s running in which we all say: Yes I can.