Back in May, the Girls on the Run showed me it’s better to giggle than grimace during a training run.
Sunday morning, they taught me the same rule applies to racing.
Laughing their way around the track inside the Pettit National Ice Center, 11 girls from Notre Dame Middle School set the pace of good spirits in the first New Balance Girls on the Run 5K. In all, about 100 area runners took part in an event that signified the growing success of the Girls on the Run Milwaukee Chapter.
I had the honor of serving as one of the race marshals, along with Ashley Kumlien, who donned a wonder woman costume and shared her own enthusiasm for running. Her super-hero status goes beyond the attire: Kumlien ran across the country in 2010 to raise money for research to cure Multiple Sclerosis.
She and the dozens of volunteers who teach and coach the young ladies who participate in Girls on the Run served as great role models, showing the value of honest effort on Sunday and throughout the weeks of training.
The participants - girls in grades three through eight - train for 10 weeks, then run a 5K. They take away “an immense sense of confidence, a feeling of coming together,” said Zarine Anklesaria, the local GOTR executive director.
Adriana Gonzalez, 10, had a simpler view. “I felt happy finishing it,” Gonzalez said, after completing all 11 laps with her running buddy, her cousin, Maria Tapia.
“It was good that it pushed them to accomplish a goal and not give up,” said Tapia, 17. “It gets her motivated to try new things; and she’ll feel good about herself.”
With the group’s first race a success, the Girls on the Run will work on plans to expand in the spring, to 20 school-based sites.
“It’s awesome to see how people support us in the community,” Anklesaria said.
The next event for the Milwaukee GOTR chapter will be a reception and panel discussion with Molly Barker, who founded the first chapter in North Carolina. That event will be Feb. 9, from 6 p.m. to 9:30, in the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center.
For more pictures from the New Balance Girls on the Run 5K, check out this collection from Bill Flaws and Running in the USA.