Girls on the Run set for spring 5K

A runner culminates 12 weeks of training and learning in the Girls on the Run program as she crosses the finish line with her running buddy.
A runner culminates 12 weeks of training and learning in the Girls on the Run program as she crosses the finish line with her running buddy.

Girls on the Run of Central Virginia will hold its spring Celebration 5K race Saturday, May 2, at Sweet Briar College. Pre-race activities for the runners kick off at 8:30 a.m., followed by the start at 10.

The untimed race caps the spring program for the Girls on the Run council, which comprises 35 teams from around the region. Girls ages 8 to 13 have been training for 12 weeks to prepare for the event, which recognizes and celebrates their efforts.

"Happy hair" and face decorations fuel the girls' pre-race excitement.
“Happy hair” and face decorations fuel the girls’ pre-race excitement.

Sweet Briar proudly supports Girls on the Run and its mission to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Since fall 2011, the College has worked with the Lynchburg-area council to provide a venue for the spring and fall 5K races.

In 2015, Girls on the Run is recognizing every participant as “one in a million” as the national organization surpassed one million girls served, says Central Virginia council director Mary Hansen.

“Five thousand of them are ours,” Hansen said, noting the local group, which she co-founded in 2005, also reached a significant milestone this year.

While race day is always a riot of color and sound, two hues are sure to dominate the landscape on Saturday. The girls will be wearing their spring program T-shirts, which are green this year. The organizers were debating what color the adult staff and volunteers should wear for the event when Sweet Briar announced it would be closing on Aug. 25. They chose pink.

“The colors basically match Sweet Briar’s,” said Hansen, whose daughter is a junior at the College. “We wanted to do it to show solidarity with everyone there.”

Volunteers — including Sweet Briar students — help with set-up, direct traffic, serve as running buddies, and staff pre-race activities such as face-painting and “happy hair” tables.

It takes about 250 volunteers to make it all happen, not including participants’ parents and siblings who run with them. In all, more than 800 runners will take the challenging course, which starts and finishes near the train station, winding through parts of campus, along the Dairy Loop past the dairy barns and riding center, through woods and fields and up and down hills.

Members of the community are encouraged to come out to watch and cheer on the runners along the route.

For more information, visit the Girls of the Run of Central Virginia website at girlsontheruncenva.org and click on GOTR 5K.