Girls on the Run of Central Virginia will hold its spring Celebration 5K race Sunday, May 1, at Sweet Briar College. Pre-race activities for the runners kick off at 12:30 p.m., followed by the start at 2.
The non-competitive “fun run” wraps up the spring program for about 300 of the participants in the regional Girls on the Run council, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season. The council, founded in Lynchburg by Mary Hansen, Julie Pierce, Colleen Dougherty and Erin Parkhurst in 2005, now encompasses groups in both the greater Lynchburg and greater Charlottesville areas. It’s grown large enough that a second race is held in Charlottesville to accommodate the number of participants.
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 Central Virginia council to provide a venue for the spring and fall 5K races.
“Partnering with Sweet Briar College is a win-win for both Girls on the Run of Central Virginia and Sweet Briar College,” says Hansen, director of the council. “We have a beautiful and safe venue for our participants and the College welcomes four hundred to five hundred families on its campus each season.”
Girls ages 8 to 13 spend 12 weeks in the curriculum, including training to prepare for the 5K — a culminating event that recognizes and celebrates their efforts. Race day is always a colorful and exuberantly noisy affair, with the girls sporting bright T-shirts, face paint and the occasional tutu.
About 250 volunteers — including Sweet Briar students — help with set-up and take-down, direct traffic, serve as running buddies, and staff pre-race activities such as face-painting and “happy hair” tables. In all, more than 600 runners, including participants’ parents and siblings, will tackle Sweet Briar’s challenging course. Beginning and ending near the train station, runners wind 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.