Spectators: There are a few throughout the course with posters and lots of cheering. The student athletes from Georgia Tech were helping out at the race cheering the girls on.
Start/Finish: Georgia Tech Campus
Course: A moderately hilly loop course through Georgia Tech.
Schwag: T-shirt and the girls get medals
Other: There are a bunch of fun free items in the start/finish area including lots of food, musics, and free hairbands/ties from Goody as well as colored hair spray.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to be apart of my first Girls on the Run 5k. Being a huge supporter of what the program has to offer, I was very excited to experience one of their races. For those of you who don't know much about the program, here is a quick description from their website:
Girls on the Run combines training for a 5k (3.1 miles) event with healthy living education. We use exercise, positive reinforcement, and encouraging role models to help girls discover the confidence they need in those critical pre-teen years and beyond. Through interactive activities such as running, playing games and discussing important issues, participants learn how to celebrate being their unique and real selves.
Programs are set up in area schools for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls that work on training, self esteem building activities, and team skills for a semester during the school year. Saturday's 5k was the culmination of all their work this semester and a celebration. For the 5k each girl needs a run buddy (parent or other cool adult) to run along with them, their team, and their coaches. I was lucky enough to be asked to be a run buddy by my favorite 10 year old.
Seriously, when have you ever seen no lines at a race or event with kids including mostly females?
Best pre-race moment ever.
We arrived at the race bright and early on Saturday morning. I was picking up my bib that morning, and we also needed to meet up with Run Buddy's team and coaches to get hers. Additionally, there are a bunch of things already set up pre-race, like the Goody hair station, that we had to visit. The hair accessory company Goody had a huge array of hair ties/barrettes/bands/etc. that the girls could pick from and a colored hair spraying station to give the girls a little more race flair.
Rocking the pink striped hair and new headband pre-race.
We spent the rest of the pre-race time checking out the fun outfits that other runners and teams were wearing. Lots of tutus, knee socks and crazy hats to be seen. I had asked Run Buddy if she wanted to make tutus a few weeks before the race, but since this was her first GOTR 5k, I don't think she realized how common and fashionable they were until we got there. Of course as soon as we got in the start corral she declared that we will make them for next time.
GOTR does a great job of making sure everyone feels included regardless of pace or experience. I thought I was a total rock star when I got bib number 1, but GOTR makes sure everyone feels that way by giving everyone bib number 1 (Side note: I still feel like a rock star). Additionally, the race corrals are not numbered or lettered, but given fun names like "Twinkletoes," "Greased Lightening," and "Road Runner". Wave are sent off every few minutes, so there is a constant stream of giggling girls and sweaty parents circling the course and very little emphasis is placed on the race clock (no chips, and the clock is used more to space out the waves at the start).
Coming up the last hill of the 5k.
I could tell pre-race that my Run Buddy seemed a bit nervous. This was only her second 5k (we had run one together a few years ago) and she had had a cold leading up to race day. We ended up walking a lot of the race, chatting with one of her teammates, and checking out the GA Tech campus. The Jayhawk was nice enough to meet use around a mile in to provide extra cheering and encouragement. Run Buddy has always been curious about my race medals, and she seemed excited to receive her first real race medal (adults unfortunately don't get one so I'm left admiring hers).
The race bling.
Post race there are lots of refueling options from yogurt, bananas, and apples, to cookies, smoothies, and coconut water. T-shirts are handed out post race and everyone is encouraged to hang out and enjoy some music and the post race festivities.
The race shirt, Shwings, and the hair flair table.Overall, GOTR does a great job of encouraging young girls to be active and helping them to develop self confidence. The 5k is a great celebration of this work and non-intimidating way to experience your first or second 5k (of course I did see a Boston Jacket there, but it wouldn't be a running event without one).
Ever run a 5k with a child? Is there a Girls on the run program in your area?