Faith and Friendship Fuel Fitness
Faith and Friendship Fuel Fitness
Story by Rachel S. Bell
Chrissy Slater and Lauren Evans knew each other in passing for almost 11 years, but a true friendship didn’t begin to blossom until they joined the same Connect group at church. That friendship quickly grew into something special following the pandemic.
“Covid hit in 2020, and later that year I lost my sister unexpectedly,” says Chrissy. “It was a very tough time for me emotionally, and Lauren was there for me throughout it all.”
Chrissy said that while their friendship grew, so did their “Covid bellies.” In 2021 the two women agreed to help each other recommit to taking better care of their bodies and committed to running together on a weekly basis. So begins the story of the “Godley Gurlz,” as they are affectionately called by the local athletic community.
“We began running on Wednesday nights after our Connect group met, and then during summer break, we met with the community of runners at a locally-owned running store.”
The pair eventually worked their way up to a 10k and decided the needed a bigger challenge.
The two friends signed up for their first race—the Rock n’ Roll Marathon in Savannah. Lauren and Chrissy ran the half marathon as a relay team. They decided if they could survive that, then they could keep running.
After they ran the Bridge Run that December, the two women committed
to run a race together every month for an entire year. Chrissy and Lauren achieved that goal in October of 2022, and are
“We have met so many amazing and encouraging people along the way,” says Chrissy, “Especially those who have put on these races in our communities—all to support local charities like Sister-to-Sister Facts, Run for the Wounded, Blessings in a Bookbag, Walk for Life, and so many more. Running became so much more than physical fitness and friendship for Lauren and me. It gives us opportunities to share our faith and do something we love, to reach others. In return, these people have changed our hearts physically and spiritually.”
Chrissy admits they enjoy tangible rewards at the end of a good race, whether it’s the plant they got to pick out for finishing the Mama-Run last May, or a chicken biscuit waiting at the finish line of the Chick-fil-A 5K.
“We quickly realized Lauren is a sucker for a free t-shirt, and I am all about the medals!” she laughs. “Regardless of how well we finish, we always finish together!”
Chrissy worked hard to celebrate her friend’s 40th birthday in May 2023 in a big way. Behind the scenes each month, she coordinated with each race director to collect extra t-shirts from every race they ran together. “I knew Lauren would never give up her precious t-shirts from the races and I needed 30 to have them made into a memory quilt by a lady1 at our church.”
Chrissy gave the quilt to Lauren at her favorite race, the Mama Run 5K benefiting Molly's Bridge, and many of their friends joined them to help celebrate Lauren's birthday.
Over and over again, her friends agree Lauren is the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported. Her Facebook account is dedicated to cheering for her friends and promoting local businesses.
Lauren is now pregnant with her fifth child. Early in the pregnancy, Chrissy had to run one marathon by herself, but Lauren was still right there to support her friend. “I was so excited to have Lauren and Josh2 and Marc with me at the starting line, and then Lauren surprised me at two different spots along the way to encourage me. Then, there she was waiting at the finish line!”
Godley Gurlz always finish together.
Travis Slater, Chrissy’s husband, says that fitness, fellowship and faith are priorities that should be practiced regularly for a fulfilling life.
“The fact that Chrissy and Lauren practice each of these things simultaneously is incredible and has shown improvement in many aspects of their lives, while motivating others in their sphere of influence. It has truly been remarkable to be a part of.”
“Running is about pushing my body to be healthier and pushing my mind to be stronger,” says Chrissy, “but above all, it’s about friendship and the incredible group of runners that will come alongside you while you do it.”
1 Martha Weston Designs
2 Incidentally, Lauren is married to Joshua Evans, the “Get Gumped” local celebrity. It must help to have “Run, Forest, run!” in the house!