By Gina Lucrezi PC: @runwithshfoote @wyeasttrailsisters

Sponsored by REI Co-op.

Unstoppable, persistent, strong, and undeniable. These are the words I think of when I hear the phrase “force of nature.”

I envision a powerful current of water ripping around the deep polished corners of a tucked away canyon. It’s inner uniqueness to stay hidden as it’s passed up for the quick and easy vista drive-by instead.

Beautiful cotton ball plumes waltz over mountain tops while the blue bird skies create a backdrop for the perfect picture. Though she’s easy on the eyes and quite inviting, the invisible energy she’s creating will blow you away. Respect the mountain, take consideration when assuming her power.

Besides water and wind, there is another force of nature that fits the mold of unstoppable strength, women.

More than anything, women understand how to be strong. We face challenges day in and day out that test us physically and mentally. Our bodies are created to reproduce, one of the most strenuous and amazing tasks a person can have. We fight an uphill battle against societal stereotypes to prove our capabilities and our intelligence.

Like the water and its persistence, each of us acts as part of the current cutting through the stone that forms a canyon. We are all single gusts, that when combined, create the strength of gale force winds strong enough to move rock and ice.

Naturally, women have a deep-rooted relationship with nature. There is a reason why the Earth and “nature” are referred to and considered female; for example Mother Earth and Mother Nature. Ironically, female outdoor participation and opportunity is not representative to these phrases.

In hopes to advance gender equality in the outdoors, REI Co-op has created a public effort called the Force of Nature. This effort is focused on putting women front and center, and to empower them to get outside and embrace Earth’s playgrounds.

REI’s Force of Nature effort will focus on 4 key pieces.

1). Changing the Narrative.

REI will be sharing stories from women adventurers, makers and rule breakers within their marketing campaigns, social content, and Co-op Journal. Trail Sisters is honored to be one of their outreach avenues to women in the sport of trail running.

2). Creating Community.

On May 6th, REI will be offering 1,000 + events designed to get women outside. Additionally, REI will be offering hundreds of REI Outdoor School classes, 19 new REI Adventure Trips, and 3 REI Outessa retreats.

3). Closing the Gear Gaps.

Women don’t want to wear unisex gear, and we deserve better than the “shrink and pink” method. REI is partnering with brands who make women specific gear, as well as working with their Co-op brands to provide expanded extended sizes.

4). Investing in Communities.

Put your money where your mouth is. REI will be committing $1 million to community organizations who are currently aiming to close the gender gap and who are creating opportunities for women and girls.

From one trail sister to another, this is what it’s all about. Supporting, educating, and empowering one another. We are all Forces of Nature in our own right, and when we come together, nothing can stop us. Keep strong, persistent, and encourage your fellow females to take a trail run in Mother Nature. After all, this land was made for you and me (and everyone).

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