Profile: Claudia Cruz, co-founder of Corridaamiga (Running Friends)

SO… Have you thought about using running as a means to commute, exercise and save money?

São Paulo native Claudia Cruz is the co-founder Corridaamiga (Running Friends) with her twin sister Sylvia. The initiative promotes running to reduce pollution, travel costs and to foster a healthy and active lifestyle. The community has rapidly grown over the past two years in Brazil and Claudia hopes to see the same growth here in Australia.

We’re happy to share this exclusive sports interview with Claudia who will launch Corridaamiga in Sydney for the very first time.

SO… get your running shoes on, invite a friend or two along, and get ready to discover how you can get involved with Corridaamiga.

First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from originally? How long have you been living in Sydney?

My name is Claudia Cruz. I am from São Paulo, Brazil. I have a background in Law and Compliance, and completed a Masters in Consumer and Environmental Law. I was working within the financial market in Brazil when I decided to travel to Australia. I arrived in Sydney in February 2015 and I am a currently studying Business Management and Leadership. I began running six years ago and my sister and I are co-founders of an initiative called Corridaamiga (Running Friends).

What were your favourite sports to play growing up in school back home? Do you come from a sporting family?

I used to play volleyball in Brazil. I played for ten years for different sporting clubs. At that time, my parents were not involved with any physical exercise at all however they always encouraged my twin sister and I to exercise.

The volleyball games would take place early during the weekends and my parents would always cheer us on. It is interesting to note that my mum changed her routine and, nowadays, she regularly exercises and has also taken up running.

Tell us a little bit about “Corridaamiga”. What inspired you to pursue this initiative?

In 2013, my twin sister studied in France. There, she used to run as a way of moving around the city and benefited a lot from it. She got to know places, people and it also helped to fight loneliness. She saved a lot of money on public transport. Then, she started to think that it would be necessary to share this idea with more people around the world.

Inspired by Bike Anjo (a volunteer group of urban cyclists that assists people who wish to learn to ride a bicycle in their city) the idea of Corridaamiga emerged, with the intention of helping and inspiring runners who want to use running as a means of transportation.

Corridaamiga has the goal to inspire people to use running as a form of commuting and supports them with practical advice and by providing a buddy system. It encourages people to incorporate exercise into their daily routine, maintaining a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing time with family and friends. At the same time, transport costs, traffic congestion and pollution are reduced.

What are the advantages of taking up running? How have you been able to spread the word in Brazil?

One of the benefits of running is that it stimulates a low carbon dioxide (Co2) form of transportation, which is also responsible for increasing our quality of life, therefore making people happier. While running, the person has a totally different and (we believe) more pleasurable experience in the city. It is healthier too.

It is worth saying that an increasing problem around the world has been the rise in obesity. Thus, our main purpose is to act as multiplying agents, spreading the practice of running as urban mobility, and passing on the complementary benefits (time optimisation, reducing costs, improving quality of life etc.) to other citizens.

It has been only a year and half since we started the Corridaamiga community in Brazil and already plenty of magazine and newspaper articles related to the sport and other urban mobility organisations have contacted us to promote the initiative, including TV shows. Also, the community on Facebook has been a very good and an effective tool to spread the word in Brazil and now we aim to create a community in Australia.

What are some valuable life lessons that you have learned throughout this initiative. How can we get involved?

Valuable lessons: yes, we can! If you really want something, you can do it! And when we concretise it, it is amazing to see that we are not alone… more and more people want a better and more cooperative world. Our network is growing fast and Corridaamiga is real proof of that.

We have our Corridaamiga website and if you want to be a volunteer runner, please complete your details on our website. The runners are not professional running coaches. Our volunteers are common people that run and have agreed to help others. If you want someone to help you with your first route, you have to ask for a “Corrida Amiga” on the website. When we receive this request, the volunteer and the beginner will be matched based on location and we put them in contact.

What do you envision for Corridaamiga in the future?

Experts worldwide are beginning to discuss and recognise the role of “active transportation” as a healthy alternative to a sedentary lifestyle and its ability to improve the quality of life of the population. Therefore, it is essential to expand the Corridaamiga network so that more and more runners are willing to use running as urban mobility.

In Brazil, this activity is still in the embryonic stage, so we aim to foster pedestrian mobility and the demand for better conditions for the non-motorised ways of transportation.

Claudia recently featured at a monthly series of talks called More Than > Seminar. On the last Thursday of every month, a group of young professional women meet at Forbes Hotel on York St, Sydney to engage in meaningful discussions and conversations on challenging ideas and diverse experiences. If you would like to attend the next seminar, please check out the More Than > Seminar’s Facebook page.

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