Girls on the Run 5K expected to bring 700 students to Frisco
Girls on the Run 5K
What: A 5K fun run for parents and students in the Girls on the Run program, a national initiative to encourage fitness and overall wellness for elementary and middle school girls
When: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 11 a.m.
Where: Frisco Elementary School start
The event is open to community members. For more information, see the Girls on the Run website at www.girlsontherun.org.
Even the best and fastest runners have to start somewhere, and Linsey Kach hopes that the running bug will bite Summit County youngsters early.
This weekend, when thousands of skiers descend on Summit for first tracks, about 195 local elementary and middle school girls will join nearly 500 other students from across the Central Rocky Mountains for the Girls on the Run 5K. The event, a fun run made just for the girls and their families, is the finale of a 10-week course that champions fitness, self-improvement and general well being.
For the first time ever, dozens of Colorado schools come to Frisco for the 5K. It’s the newest addition to the GOTR line-up, and Kach believes there’s no better place for the unofficial final test.
“This program is growing so much that we needed another site to host a fall race,” said Kach, the town’s recreation programs manager and director of the local GOTR programs. “Naturally, since we love hosting races here in Frisco, this really gives us an opportunity to bring other communities and people into Summit County.”
Along with about 700 runners, she expects the event to draw nearly 200 parents and siblings. It’s also open to community members who simply want to come out for a relaxed, early-morning run through Frisco.
“Parents really enjoy this program,” she said. “I think they really watch their girls grow during those weeks, whether it’s confidence and self-esteem or just setting that goal of running a 5K.”
The course will be an out-and-back on the Summit County Recreation Path. Due to the high number of anticipated racers, the race will start in waves. The course is relatively flat with spectacular views of the Dillon Reservoir, Buffalo Mountain and Mount Royal.
But, what about the possibility of a freak Summit snowstorm?
“It was one of those ‘What are we doing?’ moments when it started snowing this week, but we’ve been able to work out a great course that will be safe and mostly dry,” Kach said. “We questioned bringing on another fall event, but we’re ready for it.”
More than running
Launched in 1996 out of North Carolina, GOTR is a nonprofit that’s made just for girls. It’s found in hundreds of school across the nation, including Summit Middle School and every elementary school in the county. The 10-week curriculum is open to grades three through eight, Kach says, but the majority of girls are in elementary school.
Kach brought GOTR to Summit about five years ago, and beleives the program is a perfect introduction to physical activity in a safe, non-competitive environment.
“We have a group of girls who are into clubs sports and very competitive, and we have others who just aren’t really into athletics,” she said. “It’s fun to take that group of girls and see them grow throughout the program, whether that’s through self-respect or working as a team member, learning to work together.”
For starters, this is more than a girls-only gym class. Groups at each school begin with 30 minutes of curriculum work — say, discussing the best and worst foods for a youngster’s diet — followed by 45 minutes of running or other physical activity, all with the goal of finishing a 5K after 10 weeks of training.
“It’s not just running,” Kach said. “A lot of girls are under the impression that’s all it is, but it’s so much more than that. There’s never just running — there’s always a game or some other activity associated with it.”
Those games are part of the curriculum, she says. It’s a way to make running more enjoyable than simply pounding pavement, and it’s helped bring more girls into the fold. Volunteer coaches break up the scheduled run with questions like, “What one junk food are you willing to give up?”
“It’s really about incorporating the knowledge gained from the curriculum with that physical activity,” she said. “It gives them something else to focus on and think about when they are running.”
And it’s worked. Kach, who sits on the GOTR board and also coaches the girls at Frisco Elementary School, has enjoyed watching her group grow stronger and more confident over the past 10 weeks.
“You really do see a change in the fitness level,” she said. “At those first few practices they might just walk through most of it, and by the time the 5K comes around, they are just so excited for the race. They’re already excited for next year, for the next race.”
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