Sisters with Blisters

Week 290 (4 - 10 May 2019)

In 2017, mum-of-two Yvonne Wadeson sat at home in York watching the London Marathon. Like many others that day, she made a passing comment to her family that she would like to be a finisher next year. And like many others, her family’s response was one of dismissal, seemingly thinking it had little chance of happening.

However, a year later, Yvonne completed the marathon and has since inspired hundreds of women to do the same. She was so determined to prove to herself that she could achieve her goal that she went from barely being able to run to the end of her street without having to stop to catch her breath, to running a marathon 12 months later.

This week, Yvonne’s story featured as part of the BBC’s #changethegame campaign, which has been launched as a celebration of female athletes.

“Nothing ever bothered me; people didn’t faze me in gyms. But I put my trainers on and for the first time I was really scared.

“I was sitting on my stairs thinking that people will laugh at me, I can’t do this.”

Overcoming her fear wasn’t the first hurdle. When Yvonne sat on her stairs, she realised she needed some support and encouragement, so she decided to set up the Sisters with Blisters Facebook group, initially just for her and her friends.

The group allows members to give each other tips, advice and motivation when it comes to running, as well as allowing meetings to enable women can run together and socialise.

“Sisters with Blisters was a natural name. it just implied that we’re a bit rubbish as running, we will all get blisters, but we’ll get through it together.

“As long as you’re a woman and you want to run, you can come in.”

The Sisters with Blisters grew rapidly across the world and now has over 5,000 members from across Europe, the Middle East and America.

Keen runner and Sisters with Blisters member, Julie Lewis, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three years ago after years of being an active runner. Speaking of the impact the group has had on her, she said:

“I got up one day to go for a run with my friend and I couldn't do it, and then 24 hours later I couldn't use my right leg at all. I had two years without running.

"Having someone to run with, to chat to you to take your mind off any pain, is amazing. I also love the social side of it and the way they accommodate any kind of ability. Even if you feel rubbish, it's fine. When they're running together, if someone stops, they all stop."

Yvonne’s determination has inspired many women to join Sisters with Blisters, and has had a positive impact on their lives. For communicating a strong message of inclusion, and for inspiring a global community of runners, Sisters with Blisters is JTA Communicator of the Week.

Photo: @bbcgetinspired