If you’re planning on taking a walk at Sawyer Point on Saturday morning, bring your enthusiasm, because it’s going to be hard not to cheer on the 1,200 young girls racing a 5K.
The Girls on the Run 5K takes place at the park starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, with more than 3,500 expected to attend the event that represents so much more than a run. It's the program's eleventh year in the Tri-State.
“Girls On The Run is a character-building running program,” explained Mary Gaetner, executive director of the Cincinnati chapter. “Girls go through a series of lessons while they train for a 5K. They work with volunteer coaches twice a week who partake in the curriculum.”
Girls in grades 3-8 can have a tough time, and GOTR provides life lessons that give them a strong foundation, according to Gaetner.
“They go through a series of lessons that are character-building and confidence building,” Gaetner said. “It’s really giving these girls the tools they need to navigate their preteen years. (They learn about) healthy eating, peer pressure, gossip and community building, all while getting along with their teammates.”
Known as a prevention program, it prepares girls in the age-range for the future while promoting healthy winning. It’s not all about the running, Gaetner explains, because spending time with positive role models is influential on the girls’ lives.
“Running is a tool for that,” she said. “We are not necessarily expecting every girl to go on and be a cross country runner; it’s about setting a goal and training. It gives them the confidence they need to take to high school and beyond.”
GOTR serves ten counties in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana and Bob Roncker’s Running Spot fits each girl for running shoes and provides them a T-shirt. The program has seasons in the fall and the spring.