Rather than my usual weekly workout post, today is all about my experience being a Girls on the Run 5K Sparkle Runner at the Fall 2015 race on Randall’s Island in NYC! I had an absolutely amazing time and would love to get more involved with the organization.
Girls on the Run promotes a love of running and healthy living among girls ages 8-13 across America. This year, the New York City chapter had 27 groups comprising more than 400 girls. You can get involved with Girls on the Run NYC as a team coach, and it’s something I would love to do in future, but it requires a time commitment during the workday that isn’t possible with my current work schedule. So I was happy that you could also volunteer at the biannual 5K race.
I signed up for the 5K as a Sparkle Runner. Several different opportunities are available, including volunteering to cheer on girls along the course, or to run as a specific girl’s running buddy. Sparkle Runners are matched with one team and are supposed to run the course with the whole group, motivating and cheering along the way.
I woke up around 8am on Sunday morning, ate a quick breakfast, and set off on my run up to Randall’s Island. I decided to run along the East River Esplanade and cross over the footbridge to Randall’s Island at 103rd Street. From my apartment to Icahn Stadium was roughly a 2.5 mile jog, with gorgeous views along the way.
Once I crossed over the bridge, it wasn’t very far to Icahn Stadium, where all the pre-race festivities were taking place. I got there in time to pick up my Sparkle Runner T-shirt and race number.
I went down to the field to meet my team at 10am, and was delighted by all the fun decorations. I dressed in lots of pink, my favorite color, and loved all the pink and green balloons and streamers!
Since the team of girls from the school I was assigned to was larger than the number of regular coaches and volunteers, the Sparkle Runners ended up being assigned to specific girls as running buddies. My buddy was an adorable third grade girl named Vanessa, and we had so much fun together. We jogged most of the 5K with some walk breaks here and there and one water stop, and she kept on chugging along even when she got a little overheated (it was 55 degrees on a December morning and her mom bundled her into a pink tracksuit and winter coat, which we took off and I carried most of the way).
Along the route, we took in the views and talked about her school and how she enjoyed running. Her favorite subject is reading, and she had lots of the same favorite books I had at that age. It was awesome to talk about Little House on the Prairie and The Secret Garden with a wonderful kid 🙂
Before we knew it, we were crossing over a little wooden bridge and heading back to Icahn Stadium, the 5k nearly complete. Even though she was a little tired, my buddy kicked it in gear and sprinted to the finish! She was rewarded with a wonderful medal. The girls also got finisher certificates and fun goody bags from their coaches.
Afterwards, I chatted with one of the other Sparkle Runners on my team and stretched with the girls. And then it was almost noon and time to start heading home. I was already thinking about how I could get more involved with Girls on the Run on the way back. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed getting to know my running buddy, the coaches and other Sparkle Runners, and the whole team. I will definitely be back to do the 5k again in 2016.
Do you have a local chapter or other similar organization?
Have you ever run a Girls on the Run 5k?
What’s the best part for you about introducing kids to running?
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