I Am Woman 5K Run & Walk

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Sarah Fredrich & Hannah Purcell

I Am Woman 5K Run & Walk

Saturday, October 26, 2019
Centra Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center

Hosted by Centra Women & Children’s Services, this annual all-female run and walk benefits Centra Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Fund and raises money for local pediatric care. For more information call 434.200.4523. 


A big thank you to our 2019 Finish Line Sponsors Genworth and Banker Steel! 

From 15 Seconds to a 5K

It all started with a walk. In October 2018, Hannah Purcell decided she wanted to prioritize her health. Realizing she needed help with this goal, she called on her longtime friend, Sarah Fredrich. On their walk, Hannah asked for help, told Sarah her goals, and confessed: “I’ve never been a runner. I’ve never been called a runner. I want to be a runner.” 

Sarah, a personal trainer at Kinetix, was ready to support her friend on her health journey. When speaking of Hannah, Sarah reflects: “courage is not just physical – it’s emotional, mental, and spiritual. I will never forget Hannah being vulnerable with me.” The pair started training almost immediately. They started small, with workouts in Hannah’s home, and then gradually began to run. The duration of Hannah’s first run was 15 seconds.

Over a few months of training, Sarah helped Hannah work her way up to running a mile. As the women reflect on the day Hannah ran her first full mile without stopping, they remember it as emotional. Hannah was becoming a runner. With Hannah reaching such an important milestone, Sarah thought it was time to up the stakes. She said to Hannah, “let’s run a 5K.” Sarah told her friend to find a local 5K she was interested in and the pair would sign up to run together.  

Hannah found the I Am Woman 5K event on Facebook. The timing in October was great both for the weather and their training schedule. Aside from the timing, Hannah simply thought I Am Woman looked like a fun and encouraging event. She liked the motto “Look Good. Feel Good. Do Good.”

The pair continued do train up until the race, and when the day finally arrived, both women agreed the environment and overall feel was encouraging. Sarah says: “today, we’re so caught up in a culture of comparisons and cutting each other down with a focus on looking a certain way. It was such an empowering race for us both to actually be there and see women of all shapes, sizes, and ages – there were moms pushing strollers, older women who had been running the race for years, kids, and then there was Hannah, who was running her first ever 5K.”

Embodying the run’s motto, Sarah and Hannah remember all racers being encouraging and supportive of one another. Fellow runners cheered for Hannah as she ran past them towards the finish line. The sense of community was abundant throughout the race, which Hannah and Sarah both feel is unique to I Am Woman. “All of the women in the race were ‘doing good’ by encouraging others and being kind. Kindness goes a long way and can build bridges over so many obstacles,” Sarah reflects.

Helping local children also motivated the pair during their run, another way they were “doing good.” A portion of each registration fee for the I Am Woman 5K went towards Pediatric Care at Centra’s two Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Lynchburg General and Virginia Baptist. To both Hannah and Sarah, serving and giving to others is important, and was an added benefit of the event.

On October 26, 2019, Hannah Purcell reached her goal by crossing the finish line of her first ever 5K. As a personal trainer, Sarah’s highlight of the day was seeing Hannah’s face when she put her finisher’s medal over her neck. When thinking back to the day, Hannah is elated: “We did it. I truly went from 15 seconds of running to a 5K. I am a woman and I am a runner!”