Girls run the 6ix taking over Toronto streets

May 13, 2024 | Culture, Life

Every Friday, at 6:45 a.m., at the intersection of Queens Quay and Stadium Road in Toronto, Jill Amirault and Claire Milburn lead a six-kilometre run for girls living in the GTA.

Amirault, 26, and Milburn, 23, began Girls Run The 6ix back in December, the run club is free with no sign-up, and the location and time remain the same weekly.

It all began when Milburn saw a TikTok video Amirault posted of one of her runs and then asked if the two could go on the run sometime.

“We started running, and then we had another friend who was running with us, but she moved to England,” Amirault said. “It would be great if we could get an atmosphere that is going that is, like, to attract other girls to it as well.”

What they loved about their runs was how safe they felt.

“We wanted to create a club where like-minded women could come together,” Amirault said.

Their community grew quickly in the past couple of months with about 20 regulars showing up each Friday.

“I think about two months ago, we had 4 hundred followers, and now we have 4,000,” Amirault said.

Many participants gravitate to this club because it has a bigger sense of community.

“We’ve had multiple people tell us when you go to a lot of run clubs, you often just stick with the one person you came with… but they said when they come to ours, you’re bound to end up talking to at least five new people, “Amirault said.

They also lead other events such as weeknight runs, including energy drinks, bars and fundraisers.

Girls running the 6ix will be fundraising for KMH Ride with the Sun at the end of the month, raising money for mental health. They have created good relationships with brands who will be sending in prizes that will be given out to people raising money Amirault said.

Club members are also welcomed to lead runs “It feels so empowering to have these women come to us with ideas that could help them but also help us.” Milburn said.

“To meet new people to get to know their story. Even the small conversations that would seem like they can be awkward feel so much easier when you are running side by side,” said Milburn

The two have tried other running clubs but noticed a different environment with an all-girls club.

“We have had so many girls who have never run before run with us, girls who are by themselves and join us and they open up to us about how safe they felt,” Milburn said.

The club began to be more than just a running club, but a way for GTA girls to make friends.

“We had these two girls ran a Toronto marathon, they finished it together… they met at (the) run club two months ago,” Amirault said.

Amirault and Milburn like to go to for coffee after every run where the invite is extended to everyone at the meet.

“We don’t even talk about running, we talk about every single topic that any girl could have a conversation about, it’s great,” Milburn said.

Their objective is to empower women.

“There’s this whole conversation about young women being scared to be active and be in sports. You can start a new sport at any age and you can find the right community that works for you,” Amirault said.

“When I think of our run club it’s not just another run club. It’s the whole community we created and the amazing girls we have a part of it,” Milburn said.

“Never be afraid to come, it’s a judgment-free zone and the goal is to support each other,” Amirault said.