More and more women across the country are getting involved in outdoor sports and recreation. But unless they’re initiated to at a young age, it can still be daunting for some to enter their first timed race or take that virgin bike ride. In these cases, female-focused events and experiences can create a less intimidating, more welcoming environment for learning and achievement.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 women’s-only opportunities in our area that can serve as stepping stones to a lifelong journey in the pursuit of adventure.

RACES

Girls on the Run St. Louis 5K
Girls on the Run 5K St. Louis
It’s the largest timed 5k in Missouri, with this year’s race in May attracting more than 9,000 participants to the streets of downtown St. Louis. Girls taking part in the Girls on the Run St. Louis program, as well as all coaches (site liaisons, head coaches, assistant coaches and practice partners), are automatically registered for the 5k, but others can join for a fee. Learn more about Girls on the Run St. Louis below. girlsontherunstlouis.org/run-our-5k

Go Girl Run Half Marathon and 5K
Go Girl Run Half Marathon and 5K
Designed for both accomplished and beginner runners/walkers, this half-marathon and 5k series encourages women to train, race and socialize with each other to foster sisterhood and inspire a healthy lifestyle. Runs are hosted annually in Springfield, Columbia and Kansas City, Mo.; Oklahoma City; and Memphis, with swag including a Go Girl Run shirt, race packet with goodies and post-race food. Finishers get a custom medal, etched wine glass and free race photos. Women who finish any three of the half-marathons in a single calendar year earn a special poly-tech pullover for completing the Go Girl Run Triple Crown. ultramaxsports.com/races/gogirlrun

EVENTS

The Diva Cup
The Diva Cup St. Louis

This annual event, scheduled for October 14 in 2017, is a fun city-wide scavenger hunt bike ride for women and gender non-binary cyclists. This year’s activities also include a free fix-a-flat clinic from VeloFix St. Louis as well as an after-party and raffle at the HandleBar in the Grove neighborhood. Presented by The Monthly Cycle (see below), the mission of the Diva Cup is to build confidence and visibility of cyclists in our area and have a blast while doing it. Teams of two to five are encouraged; solo riders will be assigned to a team on the day of. Cash prizes are awarded to the first, second and third place teams. facebook.com/groups/themonthycycle

Roots Mountain Biking Women’s Retreats
Roots Mountain Biking Women's Retreat
Want to get serious about mountain biking? Twice a year, St. Louis-based International Mountain Bicycling Association instructor Jay Thomas takes 25 women on a trip to southeast Missouri or northwest Arkansas for a weekend of intermediate-to-advanced shredding. Each retreat includes a Friday night bike maintenance session from a local shop, followed by two full days of riding and skills clinics taught by certified instructors. Accommodations range from camping to hotels, depending on the location, and other activities include yoga and bike games. The retreats cover everything from cornering and wheel lifts to jumps and wall rides. Roots also hosts periodic women’s clinics throughout the year, one-day events at varying sites. rootsmountainbiking.com

Women’s Outdoor Wellness Weekend

This weekend workshop scheduled for November 10 to 12 is offered to women 18 years and older at the YMCA Trout Lodge in Potosi, Mo. Here, participants can receive hands-on instruction in the areas of archery, climbing, Dutch-oven cooking, geocaching, hiking, riflery, self-defense, horseback riding and much more. In between sessions, enjoy activities like hiking, running/walking, campfire fun and night zip-lining. Rates include lodging, buffet meals and scheduled clinics. Registration is $255 per person for the entire weekend; deadline is October 26. gwrymca.org

CLUBS/GROUPS

Girls on the Run St. Louis
Girls on the Run St. Louis
Girls on the Run is a “transformational youth development program” for girls in grades three to eight in which life skills are taught through interactive lessons and running games. The culmination of the program is a celebratory 5k event (see above). The goal of GOTR-STL is to unleash confidence in young girls through accomplishments while establishing a lifetime of healthy living. Read more about the organization on page 18. girlsontherunstlouis.org

GirlTrek
GirlTrek

According to this national non-profit for African-American women and girls, 82 percent of black women are over a healthy weight. GirlTrek is a “campaign for healing” in which participants not only walk together (physically and virtually) to stay fit but also to “transform lives, enliven communities and restore humanity.” The St. Louis chapter has more 1,100 members on its Facebook group, which serves as a hub for posting walks, events and milestones. It’s annual Sista Strut will be held on Saturday, October 7 at the St. Louis riverfront, with proceeds donated equally to area non-profits that help women battling breast cancer, survivors and research. girltrek.org

The Monthly Cycle
Monthly Cycle
We profiled these “badass ladies that love to ride around the great city of St. Louis” in our Fall 2015 issue. Its flagship ride takes place the first Monday of each month, departing from Gelateria de Leone on South Grand and ending at Tower Pub on Morganford (approximately 15 miles). Additional rides such as The Light Flow (a slower ride for women just getting started) and The Quickie (for those who want to go fast) are periodic. (No pun intended.) The Monthly Cycle welcomes all women regardless of race, age, sexual identity, non-binary identity, socio-economic background and fitness level. facebook.com/groups/themonthycycle

RunnaBabez
Runnababez
More a private team of post-collegiate racers than an open group, RunnaBabez nonetheless encourages all female runners through its online blog and articles. These not only report on the Elite team’s accomplishments but also tackle topics such as positive attitude, life balance, training and nutrition. RunnaBabez Elite members wear hot pink jerseys emblazoned with the logo of a rearing horse, and can often be seen toeing the line at local and regional road races. Questions about joining the team can be directed to founders Jackie Pirtle-Hall, Lisa Lewis-Cary and her husband, Tim Cary, who is head cross country/track and field coach at Lindenwood University-Belleville. runnababez.wordpress.com

St. Louis Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town
Moms Run This Town
It’s a familiar story: When she first started running, Georgia resident Pam Burrus didn’t have a single friend to go with. No one to motivate her or coach her. Then, in December 2010, she ran a race with three of her mom friends, and the seed was planted. Burrus started Moms Run This Town the next day. It has since grown to hundreds of chapters nationwide, including one in St. Louis. The running/walking group is a fun (and free) place for moms (and any woman) to find answers to running questions, encourage one another, locate training partners and share their personal running experiences. facebook.com/groups/STLMRTT

West County Women Cyclists
|Despite its name, this group isn’t just for female residents of west St. Louis County. However, that is the launch point for most of its outings. The network of women was formed by Marsha Clark in 2015 and is open to all skill levels: from beginners needing a mentor, to intermediates seeking new riding buddies, to the very experienced. Events take place a couple times a week and are posted on the group’s Meetup page (annual membership costs $10). Along with organized rides, the group holds skills clinics, maintenance sessions and frequent social nights for networking and sharing. bike.meetup.com/2407 or facebook.com/groups/STLWC2/

Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.