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Road running sisters-in-law

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Running buddies: Donna Mae and Edwina Arorash, friends, rivals and sisters-in-law (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Once a week, a group of women calling themselves the Sista Circle, meet to walk or run together for fellowship and fitness.

It’s not a pleasant stroll in the park. Sisters-in-law Donna Mae and Edwina Arorash keep up the pace during the eight-mile treks.

“Sometimes we really have to crack the whip. Otherwise, it is just window shopping,” said Donna Mae, whose favourite saying is “Learn to love a good hill”.

“It is important to get the heart rate up. This is about fitness.”

She and Edwina started the group 18 years ago.

“If we did not have a running race on the Sunday we would walk together on the Saturday,” said Donna Mae, 65. “Women would come up to us and ask to join us.”

The age range of the group is from 32 to 82 years old. Some of the ‘sistas’ run races with Edwina and Donna Mae. Several of them took part in the Butterfield & Vallis 5K last weekend.

Sista Circle collage: For the last 18 years the Sista Circle has been meeting for friendship and fitness (Photograph supplied)

Four years ago, Donna Mae had to take a temporary step back from the group.

“I was running and training and I hurt my leg,” she said. “The next day my calf hurt me so bad I could not walk. I was limping.”

Doctors found she had a small blood clot in her leg.

“They gave me a needle, and then medicine for three months,” she said. “That took everything away and I was good to go, but I could not walk very far and I was really slow.”

She struggled just to walk around town, but slowly built up her mileage in the space of a year.

As soon as she was back to her usual walking strength, she started training to run races again.

She took part in the Chubb Bermuda Triangle Challenge with Edwina and four members of the Sista Circle this month.

Donna Mae did the Butterfield Mile, the BF&M 10K Run and Walk and the PwC Bermuda Half Marathon. Edwina, 67, did the BF&M 10K, the Butterfield Mile and the PwC Bermuda Marathon.

Edwina was inspired to start running after watching Merernette Bean run Bermuda’s May 24 Marathon Derby in 1976. Then 16, she was the first female to officially compete.

“I used to run cross country in school,” Edwina said. “But running was not popular with women. In fact, they said women could not run as far as men and could only manage a mile or two.

“I thought well if she can do it, I can do it.”

At first she struggled to run a mile. “I didn’t know it would get easier, but I kept at it,” Edwina said.

She took part in her first May 24 Marathon Derby in 1979. “I only trained up to eight miles,” Edwina said. “I ended up coming last.”

Over the years her times got better, and she started stacking medals.

Edwin met Donna Mae 1997 at the 7.2 mile Around the Sound Race in Smith’s.

Donna Mae had planned on walking with a friend who cancelled at the last minute.

“Everyone else was dressed like runners and I was wearing a big, black Bob Marley T-shirt and some spandex pants,” she said. “I said OK, this is a real race, I have to run this.”

She had a rocky start and took off down the wrong path, but eventually finished the race with the other runners. At the end she was introduced to Edwina, who had been running for 18 years by that point.

They were immediate friends, and Edwina invited her home to meet her family.

“I thought she ran pretty fast,” she said. “Then my brother, Eugene, came over and asked me to introduce him to her.”

The pair married in 2010. Edwina was their matron of honour.

“Edwina and I have been stuck together like glue doing all the races together,” Donna Mae said.

Joked Edwina: “I used to tell my brother to fatten her up, so she would not be so fast and take my prizes.”

“We glory in each other’s spirit when it comes to racing,” Donna Mae said.

These days the friends are not as fast as they once were, but they are proud that they are still at it.

“A lot of the top runners quit when they can no longer make the podium,” Edwina said. “Some have passed away. But we are still running.”

To be a part of the Sista Circle e-mail dddoonnaa@hotmail.com

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Published January 25, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated January 26, 2023 at 8:04 am)

Road running sisters-in-law

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