When Hyedi emailed asking if I’d be a running buddy for the first-ever Girls on the Run Twin Cities 5K, I was thrilled. This incredible organization inspires girls in grades 3-5 “to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”
Of course I wanted to be a part of it!
Thirty degrees and sunshiny over Lake Phalen in Saint Paul, it was the perfect morning to run a 5K. I met up with fellow running buddies Hyedi and KJ, and after we got the lowdown on our duties – running with the girls and encouraging them throughout the race – we joined the larger group for some fun pre-race warm ups.
During warm-ups, I also ran into fellow Saint Paul runner and Birchwood biker, Heather, who partnered up with her friend’s sweet daughter, Evie. Fun to see you, Heather, and great to meet you, Evie!
Evie and her running buddy Heather.
After official race bibs were pinned, about 40 excited girls toed the line for their first race. The start line was abuzz with energy, and the girls’ giddiness was contagious!
When the whistle blew, girls were off on the counter clockwise run around the lake. And, they were fast! I honestly don’t know if I could have ran that fast when I was that age – and, I definitely don’t know if I could have ran a 5K when I was a third grader! Sure, we ran the mile every fall and spring for the presidential physical fitness test (it still exists?!), but that was it in northwestern Minnesota.
It’s pretty awesome this fantastic organization exists today. Lucky girls.
The run was relaxed and filled with smiles. I ran back and forth between the girls and other running buddies, chatting with why they volunteered – they love the organization, have previously volunteered or been a coach, or were recruited by a friend, to name a few. The girls: They were a little shy, but were beaming ear to ear… but, how can you not? You’re out running with your friends on a beautiful day!
One girl’s favorite part about GOTR: “Running!” she said.
As we neared the finish (just up a hill… I forgot the couple decent-sized climbs on the Phalen path!), the girls around me took off sprinting toward the finish. Spectators lined the path, cheering and clapping as everyone ran under the TYR arch and were given a finishers medal.
All the girls were pumped to finish, and several ran under the arch a few times, each time more excited than the last. I’m so impressed with how speedy they were! No doubt, some future tracksters and rock star runners!
My race day favorites:
- Girls on the Run, obviously. I hope to volunteer more with this amazing nonprofit in 2013.
- The pure joy on the girls’ faces. Seriously, so cool.
- Young girls being active. There isn’t enough of this in our laze-on-the-couch culture, and I love that GOTR gets them active in a safe, encouraging environment and builds their self esteem.
- Catching up with Hyedi, Heather, KJ and Amanda. You ladies rock.
- Meeting new a running buddy Melissa.
- Nick cheering along the race course. He’s good paparazzi.
Congrats to all the Girls on the Run 5K finishers! You are all amazing.