Meet Bryn Tod-Tims: Co - Founder of Sprint For Her

A fierce woman, an unapologetic feminist, and one the co-founders of Sprint For Her, Bryn Tod-Tims opens up about her personal motivations behind and hopes for the rapidly growing social media movement she founded with Milena Aksentijevich.

Using the hashtag #sprintforher, the movement uses social media to “create a space for victims and survivors of sexual assault to feel supported, believed and heard. The hashtag is spread by athletes who accompany it with their work-out photos, essentially dedicating their workout to victims and survivors, as an act of solidarity” and “as more athletes post photos of their run, walk, surf, ski, they’re also spreading awareness.”

(Photo credit: Instagram)

The idea for Sprint For Her was born in September when co-founders Bryn and Milena were training for their first Ultra Marathon. “After some circumstances changed and I found out I would be running it alone, I begged her (Milena) to consider running it with me… 6 weeks out with zero ultra training! And luckily for me, she said yes. Once Milena came on board the movement really took off and we launched the Instagram account and began appealing to our shared and individual social networks to get the hashtag going." Both North American and both extremely opinionated, Milena and Bryn are similar in many ways but embrace their differences to make Sprint For Her the best and most diverse it can be. “I tend to force my views on people and see the world pretty black and white: you are either an active voice for equality or you’re getting in the way of equality. I definitely do not think that this is the only or even best way to be… Mimi on the other hand holds a lot of fierce views but never feels the need to shout them out, I think that initially she viewed social change as something that could most effectively be initiated from a government or institutional level – so her expertise and less polarizing attitudes bring an approachability to the movement that I would not have been able to capture on my own."

(Photo credit: Instagram)

Sprint For Her takes advantage of things that are never far from most our minds in today’s society – our phones and fitness – to do something good. "The inspiration for me is always to help young women and girls to feel that there is a supportive world for them and that there is life after rape – I have witnessed this through numerous women’s stories. The fact that some girls survive assault and then develop depression, anxiety, eating disorders or in devastating circumstances, commit suicide not because of their actual assault but because society (friends, family, school, work etc.) chooses to ignore them, not believe them or even blame them, is so incredibly unfair." In a world where rape awareness is so often attached to prevention, Sprint For Her focuses on a life after rape instead, through creating a safe place on social media where survivors can feel heard, respected and safe.

Although primarily a space for survivors of assault, the movement has received support far and wide from those who have not experienced assault first hand. "Since we started the movement I have had many, many messages from people sharing their stories, explaining what happened to friends/partners and also from girls who may not have been assaulted but feel an affinity to the cause." In talking about this last group of people who have not been assaulted but support the cause, Bryn recalls a comment co-founder Milena had once shared "I think it can be a place for girls who, although may not have been sexually assaulted, have experienced oppression based on the fear of sexual assault. I remember the first time I felt ‘unlucky to be a girl’ was when I couldn’t run my favourite run at night."

A huge component of Sprint For Her is education, as each post spreads awareness on just how prevalent rape is. "My brother is at university and he posted a #sprintforher… he has 800 followers and if 400 are female then, according to statistics, we can presume at least 80 have been assaulted, and for them to see his post of solidarity can be life-changing." Throughout the interview, Bryn stresses the absolute importance of conversation as "we want people to believe that this is happening and be willing to talk about it. This will lead to more women being believed and therefore feeling empowered and safe to come forward with their assault."

(Photo credit: Instagram)

With people worldwide posting #sprintforher, and the recent founding of a South African chapter of Sprint For Her by Lauren Loxton, Bryn is ecstatic that the hashtag has gone viral." She (Lauren) is a huge inspiration to us as she felt she needed to do something, found out about us and took it to UCT (University of Cape Town) where they now do 2 runs a week to raise awareness." Big plans lay ahead for the social movement as Milena and Bryn continue to create a safe social media space in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault, through sport and fun.

Next up for these fabulous females is the Race to The King ultra marathon this June, but in the meantime head to the Sprintforher instagram account for more information and make sure to hashtag your next workout #sprintforher to inspire, educate, support and be a part of a much needed discourse on sexual assault.