Back in August, I became a coach for Girls on the Run Twin Cities. I instantly fell in love with all things Girls on the Run (GOTR) related. While participants train for a 5k, they learn important life lessons such as conflict resolution, making and maintaining friendships, confidence, and healthy choices. Because of my own marathon training and other commitments, I wasn’t able to coach during this spring session. However, I signed up as a member of Team Adelaide, which is a support team that helps train coaches, give support to teams, visits GOTR sites, and helps with events. I had a blast being able to visit a few different teams and stay in touch with the GOTR staff and coaches.
The spring season-end 5k was on Saturday, June 3rd. I started my day by helping out at the coach check-in table, where coaches received all of the goodies needed for their team – race bibs, safety pins, face paint crayons, and Dream Team passports. They also receive a portable team sign so that the girls can find them in the crowd.
WHAT IS THE DREAM TEAM?
Our Spring 2017 race will once again include a Dream Team hall of inspirational leaders from the community who have unique careers. Girls will have the opportunity to meet local women in occupations that are uncommon for their gender. Past participants included: professional athlete, fire captain, fighter pilot and more! Girls will receive a passport to get stamped at each stop as they see how other women boldly pursue their dreams.
The above is from the Girls on the Run website. The girls receive Dream Team passports, in which they collect stamps from each Dream Team member; once a girl has all of the stamps, she gets entered for a special prize. Girls are encouraged to ask questions of these amazing women.
Once all teams had picked up their goodies, my role turned to Sparkle Runner. A Sparkle Runner is a woman who is at least 18 years old and has submitted a background check; she then runs the 5k, encouraging girls as she goes. Some Sparkle Runners are assigned to a specific team to help motivate the girls and others are in “the pool,” meaning they motivate anyone along the course. I was in the pool, so I ran at my own speed, chatting and shouting encouragement along the way. I took it easy with my pace so that I could soak it up and enjoy more of it.
Once I finished the 5k, I walked back along the course to jump in with girls who looked like they needed some extra motivation and encouragement. I did this a few times and had a blast doing it. At the fall 5k I was a coach, so I spent most of the time popping onto different parts of the course to grab pictures; being a Sparkle Runner gave me another viewpoint of what the day entails and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
After most runners were in, I spent some time visiting with friends who were kind enough to run as Sparkle Runners. Just as we were making lunch plans and thinking about leaving, it was announced that the very last runner was making her way toward the final stretch. The announcement that followed was, “if you can hear this, please drop everything you are doing and make your way to the finish line to cheer on our final runner.” Suddenly, activity ceased and people were swarming toward the finish line, clapping and cheering. We all lined the course, watching as one last adorable runner made her way to the finish line. There were lots of happy tears, high fives, shouts of encouragement, and clapping hands. It was a BEAUTIFUL moment that perfectly summed up what Girls on the Run is all about; inclusion, teamwork, fun, encouragement, and forward motion. What a wonderful finale to a fantastic day!
Unfortunately, I was too busy soaking up every moment to take pictures. Next time!
I hope to return to coaching in the fall, but even if that isn’t the case, I will definitely continue to be involved in Girls on the Run. To learn more about this amazing program, please visit their website.