Maybe you’ve seen them in Oysterville. Or in Klipsan. Or in Ocean Park. Maybe on the Discovery Trail, too.
If you’ve been to one of the Peninsula’s beaches on a morning weekday in the second half of 2018, chances are you saw a group of women in matching smiles and neon pink shirts walking together.
These are the Peninsula Lady Pacers.
Peninsula resident Pat Williams Tollefson started the group last May as a way to exercise and meet people. The group, which now has more than 100 members on Facebook, originally started with just four women.
“It’s too easy to not get out the door. If you have other people with you, it pushes you,” Williams Tollefson said. “The group is bigger than I ever thought it would be.”
Making new friends
Most members are fairly new Peninsula residents. The group is seen by many as a way to connect with new friends.
“I’ve made better friends through this group than I’ve made in the two years since I’ve arrived,” said Pacer Karrie Orr.
Weather permitting, Pacers meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 10 a.m. for an hour-long walk.
The group averages about 15 attendees per walk.
Each week, the Pacers meet at a different beach approach. Through this practice, Pacers who are new to the community are able to learn more about their new home. Pacers have found fishing floats, rainbows and other enjoyable sights.
While walking, Pacers split into different groups based on various speeds. Members stay within each other’s sight and often walk back and forth between groups to visit with one another. No Pacer walks alone.
The group walks about 30 to 40 miles each month, Williams Tollefson said. In October, the group participated in the Great Columbia Crossing 10k. The group will again conquer the bridge in 2019.
Before the 10k, Pacers trained by walking up and down hills, and going on longer walks throughout the Peninsula.
A sense of community
“It’s more than just a walking group,” Williams Tollefson said.
Pacer Julie Hanenburg is one of the group’s original members. She joined after moving from Seattle in May.
“I didn’t know a soul, so for me, the Lady Pacers has been a blessing. I have met a wonderful group of women from all over,” Hanenburg said. “We all have become fast friends and always have someone to do something with, no matter the event.”
A spinoff group, Peninsula Pacer Adventures, was started for the Pacers to get together outside of the regular walks. Since the group’s start, members have gone ziplining, enjoyed shows and dinner, and created crafts.
“We can all find someone to do something with, no matter what it might be,” Hanenburg said.
Pacers encourage positive thinking and are open to talking about any subject. Most importantly, Pacers are there for one another.
“If there is a need, someone is always willing to help,” Hanenburg said. “If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, someone is always there. If someone has good news, we are all ready to celebrate.”
“It’s better than a gym membership,” Williams Tollefson said.