Tiny wooden gavels in hand, elaborate hand-sewn collars around their necks and black gowns billowing, a group of runners wound through downtown and up to the Capitol on a recent Saturday morning.
The Sisters With Blisters logged 8.7 miles as they ran to honor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 at age 87.
The women, the word "VOTE" emblazoned in white across the backs of their gowns, made two laps around the Capitol building, then paused to do planks before dashing back down Congress Avenue. They passed the statue of Angelina Eberly, an innkeeper who in 1842 fired a cannon to stave off a rebellion and preserve Austin as the capital of Texas, then hustled across the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge before finishing near Zilker Park.
The group organized the run after the mother of one member sent a picture of some women racing in RBG costumes.
"She’s a big RBG fan, and she sent me this photo and said, ‘Sisters With Blisters should do this,’" said Lisa Kirsch, policy director at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas.
She mentioned it to running buddy Amy Moore, a program manager at Austin Partners in Education.
"I wanted to gather us together to honor RBG because after she passed away we were all feeling pretty down and this was something positive we could put out in the world," Moore said.
Marni Francell, an archaeologist at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, ordered some inexpensive graduation gowns and material and went to work.
"I trimmed off the gowns so we could run in them and went into tailoring mode, sewing 20 masks and six collars," she said. The masks are black and say "dissent" on the front.
Moore designed the route so the runners would hit the 5-mile point at the Capitol to honor RBG’s five Supreme Court victories. They stopped there, lined up on the sidewalk and held a plank for 87 seconds, again for RBG’s 87 years.
"Doing this was important to me because I was born a few years before my mom could get a credit card on her own, and I am not that old," Moore said. "It was important to me to honor RBG’s life of always fighting for equality. Her legal work over her entire lifetime paved the way for my life to be easier than my mom’s or grandmother’s. I wanted to honor her so we don’t forget our recent history and her intelligence, feistiness and service to the U.S."
An entourage of husbands, children and friends cheered the women and snapped photos as they ran.
"Obviously, RBG meant so much to so many," Francell said. "She was notorious for a reason. She was out there for everyone. Whether people want to believe it or not, she was for equality for all."
The first run went so well that the group plans to do it at least once more. On Oct. 17, the group will meet at 7:30 a.m. at O. Henry Middle School. The 5-mile marker will be the new RBG mural at Navasota and Cesar Chavez streets, according to organizers, with 87-second planks at the Capitol again.
Another informal run is tentatively planned for Oct. 24. For all runs, masks must be worn and runners must follow social distancing recommendations. Instead of a single group, they’ll break into twos and threes. For more details, check the Sisters With Blisters page on Facebook.
"We’re doing this to continue the civility of RBG," Kirsch said. "This is about honoring her — we want our country to move forward in a more unified way."
"And if we have a few (Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalias that’ll be all right, too," Moore says.
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