Vancouver Outdoor Community Spotlight: Filsan Abdiaman of Project Love Run

Filsan Abdiaman of Project Love Run running on a trail

Filsan Abdiaman of Project Love Run. Photo: Patrick Leung

Running can be an intimidating sport, especially for women and BIPOCs. That’s where Project Love Run comes in. Filsan Abdiaman created this inclusive community to organize events that connect and empower women through running.


Filsan started Project Love Run in 2016 when she was living in Toronto. When she moved to Vancouver, it seemed natural to expand the organization to her new hometown. Today, Project Love Run has chapters in five cities across Canada. Filsan explains that the idea for the community was inspired by her personal story. “I was using running as a tool to help me overcome life stressors from romance to depression, mental health, anxiety, and even an eating disorder that I struggled with. And all of these are things that I couldn’t really open talk and share with folks around me. So my reasoning for starting the community was I wanted to bring women together and have them share stories and see if there are any commonalities between any of the struggles that they are facing and just make us realize that we aren’t alone in those struggles.”

As a member of the running community, Filsan loved attending group runs, but she didn’t love the focus on performance. She explains that at Project Love Run “we don’t advocate for running as a tool to control or punish your body. We use it as a tool to connect with the women who come out to that space… You are connecting to your body and trying to discover what your body strengths are, aside from the focus on speed and pace and time and all those metrics.”

Participants at the Project Love Run event

Project Love Run participants. Photo: Patrick Leung

Filsan found healing in running, and she wants to share that with other women. She explains: “I think running is a great tool to help you really connect with yourself, your mind, and your body. When you are out on a run… I’ve been able to put things in perspective. You are brought into the moment, the very present, what’s happening in that moment. And I think that’s a great life skill – that reminder that what is now is more important than what is going to happen in the future.”

Inclusivity is an important part of the Project Love Run experience. The runs are relaxed pace, with shorter options available. Filsan says that many women think “‘I don’t look like a runner. I’m not a runner.’ It’s because of what they see online. We create space with intention. There’s a code of conduct that we have folks read before they come into a space that talks about some of the language and being mindful of how you are showing up in the space.” Each of the Run to Brunch events is organized around a theme designed to get the women talking about issues that can be tough to discuss, such as the eating disorders and the body positivity movement.

Project Love Run participants on a group run

Photo: Rob Smith

Project Love Run currently offers a trail running clinic for BIPOC women. Filsan says as an avid trail runner, she is often the only Black woman at trail races. “I wanted to see women, especially BIPOC women, coming out to these races and so I decided to put on a clinic only for Black, Indigenous, and women of colour. The great thing about it is that as a participant you’re partnered with an advanced runner – a mentor that can help you through your programming. A lot of the mentors are white women so that’s fostering those relationships between women of colour and white women, which I think is really important. It’s about the relationship between women and the community and about the running journey that they are going through to prepare them for the race.”

“It’s been so rewarding having women show up and feel like [Project Love Run] is a space for them,” Filsan says. “Having them say that they really feel seen in this space [even though] there’s a lot fears some of them come into the space with. And running is an intimidating sport, but letting them know that running here with Project Love Run means more than just running. It could be walking. It could be jogging. It doesn’t really have to mean you’re running fast. Seeing them light up, that’s been very rewarding for me.”

Project Love Run participants after a run

Photo: Alia Youssef


How to Get Involved with Project Love Run

You can get more info about Project Love Run’s weekly drop-in runs and monthly Run to Brunch events on their website or follow Project Love Run on Instagram. Their next Run to Brunch event takes place on June 25.


Filsan’s Vancouver Favourites

We also asked Filsan to give us her recommendations for outdoor adventures around Vancouver.

Filsan’s Favourite Vancouver Area Place to Run: “My favourite trail in the city is Pacific Spirit Park. It’s very close and it’s beautiful. It’s such a magical place.”

Filsan’s Favourite Spot for Apres: “I like Heirloom. I love the variety they have in options for vegetarians and vegans. It’s all delicious – you forget that it’s vegetarian sometimes. I also love Sing Sing on Main Street because they have good beer and I like beer after a run.”

Filsan’s Running Advice for Beginners: “If we think too far ahead, we start comparing to others and we complicate things for ourselves… Don’t focus so much on the running. Just focus on showing up and what you can do in that moment. And then take it from there.”

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