Earlier this year, I became involved with a non-profit organization that really matched perfectly with my goals and interests – Girls on the Run. Volunteering with GOTR combines my love of running with teaching and there’s even some added event planning thrown in there too. Seriously, what more could I ask for! (for those of you that don’t know, I’m a learning and events manager for a training organization). Oh, and, I run a little too.
The GOTR DC chapter supports over 880 girls, aged 8-12, in teams at 79 different schools around the district. They have over 200 coaches for these teams and hundreds more volunteers that allow the program to go on. I was so happy to be involved and have the chance to help the program succeed and to help one little girl find success in crossing the finish line!
Last week, I spent an evening with about 20 other volunteers stuffing race packets for the end-of-season 5k race. Into the drawstring bags went some typical race stuff – coupons, flyers, safety pins, and then some special stuff for the girls – a nutrition journal, a deck of playing cards with bone health trivia and their race bibs – all printed with #1. I also met a bunch of awesome running ladies and swapped stories about training, races and nerves we shared for the 5k race on Sunday.
Saturday, I spent a couple more hours supporting the race down at the Pacer’s Logan Circle handing out race packets to community runners – folks who signed up to run the race with one of the GOTR members, or who just wanted to support the cause and have a little racing fun on a Sunday morning. All in all, we had over 2,000 runners at the 5k – the largest DC event to date!
Race day came early on Sunday with a 7am kickoff volunteering to help set up for the day. The race was held at Anacostia Park, a gorgeous facility running along the Anacostia River – it had trails, grassy areas, basketball courts and a skating pavilion. Lots of staging areas for our race!
We set up team meeting areas, first aid tents, food and water stations and lots of fun activities for the girls – a hair station to get your hair sprayed funky colors, a temporary tattoo tent and a face painting table.
I managed to pull double duty and paint a few faces while I was at it – butterflies, hearts, flowers, GOTR and even a poisonous snake as requested by a little brother of a GOTR member (complete with a rattle tail!).
Once I’d maxed out my artistic abilities, I made my way over to my team assignment – I transitioned from volunteer to Running Buddy! And I was SO excited! I was paired with St. Thomas More team and met my GOTR runner, Asia. As Asia’s running buddy, I was along for the 5k ride to encourage her, give her motivation and watch her reach her goal of finishing the 5k strong! It was a bit of a tumultuous 5k – she reacted to it the same way I do …
mile 1) I’m fast and excited!
mile 1.5) OMG this is only halfway!
mile 2) seriously, I’m ready to stop now!
mile 2.5) I see the finish line! EAT MY DUST RUNNERS!
mile 3.1) that was the best race ever!
By the end, we were best friends… but that middle mile was a little rough 🙂
It is an amazing organization and a fantastic way to spend my time – supporting the things I love and value. I can’t wait for the fall season!
Also, my pictures really don’t do the event justice – so check out the pro’s that captured the day: