“Is this a race going on?” asked a man standing in front the Sheraton in Weehawken, watching a large group of women runners pass by.
It was not any type of race. It was the Elysianettes, a Hoboken-based women’s running club, jogging through town.
Formed in 2008 after merging with the “New Mom’s Running Group,” the Elysianettes welcome runners of all speeds, skills, and ages.
Their “no runner left behind” policy is why one member and co-founder, Nancy Romano, was persuaded to join the club. Romano was approached by her friend, Elizabeth Moss, another member and co-founder, who wanted to start a women’s running club.
‘Come run with us a few times, see if you like it.’ – Nancy Romano
Didn’t start off as athletes
Moss did not consider herself a top notch athlete when she began the club.
“I ran track in high school, but that was because I had no hand/eye coordination,” Moss said. “I never took it seriously. High school was really the last time I ran. Fast forward to my 30’s, and I found myself at a running class in Central Park.”
Moss said she picked up on running, and began to develop it as a habit.
“I was getting faster and faster,” Moss said. “I realized I have some ability in it, I was setting personal goals, and now I’ve been doing it for six years.”
Moss has since run in seven marathons since 2003, including in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and Fort Collins, Colo.
Romano also never considered herself as much of an athlete.
“I had a secret wish to do the New York City Marathon,” Romano said. “I started just going on a treadmill, and I would be proud of myself for running a mile. Someone said to me, ‘You should do a race.’ I didn’t even know what a race was.”
Romano has since run 15 marathons.
Transforming over the years
Since the group’s inception in 2008, Moss says the number of members has grown.
“It has definitely grown size-wise,” Moss said. “We had about 50 members at the end of our first year. Now we have 90 paid members.”
The group has a $15 membership fee.
The Elysianettes have hosted sports doctors to come in and speak about running injuries, and have also hosted nutritionists. In addition to health-related talks, the group also has a member host a brunch after a run, and sometimes, according to Romano, the runs can end at Starbucks, where members spend time socializing.
Running as a haven
Member and co-founder Brenda Vega immigrated to the United States from Galway, Ireland in 2002, and moved to Hoboken in 2005.
“I started running by myself,” Vega said. “I was a new runner. When I did run by myself, I found it a little boring and also a bit dangerous. I was nervous. The whole idea of a running club for women appealed to me.”
Moss and Romano both agree that there is something special about the idea of the group running together, and that some find friendships along the way.
“The group started off with, and still has, a great friendly spirit among the members,” Moss said. “It’s a great group for people to join, especially ones that just moved to Hoboken.”
Encouraging people to join
The group is always looking for new members to join the runs, whether it is the first time someone is running or if they are fresh off their 20th marathon.
“We’re a mix of all ages, mix of all running paces, and we don’t leave anyone behind,” Vega said. “We’re enthusiastic. We provide support and we provide information about how to train.”
Romano believes that once someone takes part in an Elysianettes run, they will want to join the club.
“Come run with us a few times, see if you like it,” Romano said. “If you like it, then come join us.”
Moss said one runner will likely always find someone else that will run the same pace or share an interest in training. The Saturday morning runs are the most popular, according to Moss, and can have up to 40 runners.
A complete schedule of runs can be found on www.elysianettes.com.
5K on the way
On Oct. 30, the Elysianettes will produce a “HoBOOken Halloween 5K” at Pier A Park at 10 a.m. Registration currently costs $20, and will cost $25 on race day.
The race proceeds will benefit Project Play, a Hoboken based imitative whose mission includes replacing old and unsafe playground equipment for Hoboken’s Church Square Park.
More information can be found on HoBooken5k.com.
The event is open to both men and women, and will feature a Kids’ Run at 11 a.m.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com