Girls on the Run 5k

Yesterday I had the honor of helping out at the annual Girls on the Run 5k.

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I have Caitlin to thank for introducing me to GOTR, as she was a coach for the organization and frequently posted about their fun lessons and events. It’s something that instantly touched my heart as GOTR fosters positive body image, confidence and love for fun fitness among mostly elementary-aged girls (ages 7-13).

Elementary school is a tough time — at least it was for me. I had curly hair, glasses, and pre-braces teeth, was sometimes bullied and left out. I had my core group of great friends, but it was the age when cliques were starting to come into play. Dancing was something that gave me confidence, as well as my family. Even though there were times when I was hurt and cried from events at school -once I was punched in the stomach when I tried to pet a girl’s mouse that she snuck into class, haha- having a supportive family and outside activities that I enjoyed made a positive impact in my upbringing. Kids can be REALLY mean, which is something I worry about with Oliv, and I think it’s so important to teach them confidence and self worth from a very young age.

Girls on the Run meets twice a week after school with their coach and assistant coach(es) to go over that week’s lesson and do a little run. This goes on throughout the year and culminates at the 5k race event. Volunteers or family members run with the girls, and it gives them a huge goal to work towards during the year. I can only imagine the sense of accomplishment they feel when they cross the finish line.

I signed up to coach GOTR when I moved to Tucson, but wasn’t offered a spot until I was very pregnant and overwhelmed with the thought of going back to work while raising a newborn. I told them to notify me of any upcoming volunteer opportunities, and this is one that worked out with my schedule.

I got to the race location at 6am, ready to help out at the Happy Hair Booth.

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At our booth, we had a spot for family members to make signs for their runners, cheer gear,

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and a hair station set up with mirrors, headbands and hair ties. Then, they sat in our stylist chairs with a smock to be hair spray-painted with bright colors.

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I did a ton of speedy braids and updos, then painted them according to the girls’ color preferences.

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SO much fun!

I also loved talking with each of the girls while I did their hair, trying to calm their nerves and finding out about their favorite books, classes and outside activities.

After everyone had registered, had their hair done, and were ready to race, they started off the party with a Zumba warmup:

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then National Anthem and talk from the mayor,

and they were off!

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While the girls were running, we took down our booth, and I used my meal coupon to get the BEST Tucson post-race breakfast:

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(beans, eggs, salsa and coffee. I had eggs and beans twice yesterday)

Even though we could leave when our booth was packed up, I stayed for a few minutes to watch some of the race, which included a water spray from local firefighters,

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and triumphant little ladies crossing the finish line to retrieve their medals.

It was a lot of fun to participate, and something I’ll definitely be involved with next year.

If you love working with youth and enjoy running, check out Girls on the Run volunteer opportunities in your area!

Are there any fun fitness-related causes that you are passionate about? Spread the word in the comments section <3

Have a happy Monday!



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  1. Lucie on April 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

    That sounds like such a great and fun event!! I love that they could get their hair colored. And I agree – kids can be really mean. I had glasses and braces too, so I wasn’t the prettiest and the kiddos were just really straight about it 🙂
    I definitely think it’s important to teach the children a high self-esteem from the beginning. I don’t have kids yet, but if I ever have I hope I’ll manage to do that!

  2. Erica { } on April 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Omg I wish I could work with GOTR! I checked and there isn’t one anywhere near me – maybe I need to start one here 😉

  3. Mary on April 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for the Girls on the Run love, Gina! If any of your readers live in Twin Cities (Minneapolis/ St Paul), we have a fairly new Girls on the Run chapter and need lots of volunteer help!

  4. Ashley @ Life and Fitness on April 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

    That is such a wonderful volunteer opportunity! I would have loved to do something like this when I was on middle school during that awkward stage.

  5. Pinky on April 22, 2013 at 11:13 am

    GOTR is such an amazing organization. My sister is a teacher and a coach and I’ve helped run 5 5ks the past few years [fall and spring]. it is SO amazing seeing how excited the young girls are to run and HOW supportive all of the families are of each other.

    I had a dad that RAN the 5K in regular clothes to get tons of pictures of his daughter [who I buddied with] and cheered her on the whole time.

    Besides the running, I think it’s SO important girls learn about healthy body image and exercise at a young age. I was lucky, my mom MADE me exercise with athletics or good old outside playtime. But, some girls aren’t given the experience or the push to be active young therefore it’s harder to grasp the concept later in life.

  6. Lisa on April 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I’ve heard of this run, and I think it sounds so awesome.
    It’s such a great volunteer position, and I would love to volunteer for something like this. I’m not sure if they are where I live, I’ll have to check it out.
    It sounds like a great event!

  7. Shaina Anderson on April 22, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I LOVE this!! I was “the chubby girl” in school and never got into running until college. I had a hard time in high school – to the point where you couldn’t pay me enough money to repeat those 4 years. I would absolutely love to be involved with an organization like this! Thanks for posting Gina!!

  8. Danielle on April 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I love the idea of GOTR and it is definitely something I would love to volunteer for in the future! Looks like you had so much fun and for such a great cause!

  9. Kristi on April 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    what a fun event! I think you’re so right – it’s such an important thing to foster a sense of self worth and confidence from a young age. good for you for helping to create such a positive impact on those girls!

  10. Anne on April 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I was so excited to move to an area recently with GOTR, I have been wanting to participate for so long now!

    That is hands down the best post-race meal I have seen!

  11. Ali @ Peaches and Football on April 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    What a great idea. I would have been all about this as a little kid and it would have been wonderful to have had activities like these to engage me and my friends when we were little. I think it’s so much harder as an adult to get into the exercise jive if you weren’t immersed as heavily as a child. What a terrific event to volunteer for – I can see Liv doing something like this in a few years too. 🙂

  12. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! on April 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    What a great event! Sounds like you all made it really special for the girls! I would love to volunteer at something like this in the future.

  13. joelle @ on a pink typewriter on April 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Love this! I volunteer with GOTR too.. we have a 5k scheduled next month. 🙂

  14. Tracy on April 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    What an inspiring post! Anything that involves positivity for young girls is awesome. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  15. Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin on April 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I am a coach this season and can’t WAIT for our 5K in May!! This made me even more excited!

  16. Jelena@ FabLifePhd on April 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Too bad that there is nothing like that here in Germany. While I lived in Belgium they had the amazing scout movement involving a lot of volunteers and doing day trips almost every sunday and longer camps almost every month

  17. Clare on April 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    GOTR sounds awesome. It not only great for the kids, but great for you too. Win win. Where can I get more info on this? It might sound a but silly, but is there a webpage or something like that for GOTR?

  18. Natalie @ FreshLifeFindings on April 22, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I love girls on the run! I used to help with their events in Atlanta and it was so cool to see an organization promote healthy body image with young girls. Glad you got to participate!

  19. Miranda @ Miranda Runs on April 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    That sounds like such a great program!

  20. Alissa on April 22, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    What a great program! I was like you in school, really all the way through being picked on & bullied. I would LOVE to help out other kids, thank you so much for sharing!!! This is just perfect! Love the hairdo with the stripes!

  21. Chelsea on April 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Gina, GOTR is such an awesome organization! It looks like you had a blast at the race this weekend, and I bet it was a blast seeing some of those smiles as the girls crossed the finish 🙂 I’m all in for volunteering, and finding a way to incorporate it with running seems like an even better ticket.

  22. Allison on April 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    What an amazing organization! I would love to get involved with that group. 🙂

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