As a member of Team Stayput, I went to a Girls on the Run 5K in Baltimore today. I had the good fortune to travel down and spend the morning with my fellow team members IM Able and M., a local ultrarunner. They made the ride so fun (hopefully they didn't mind that I like to drive fast - oops!), the atmosphere at the race was great, despite some rain, and overall it was a great experience.
Speedy and I took a trip out to San Francisco last May, and I did a Girls on the Run 5K out there with a friend. It was her first race ever, and when we went out to dinner that night she showed up wearing her race t-shirt. That was awesome. The race last year was fun and well-organized, and I was really impressed with the GOTR organization and mission, and by how many girls were out participating in the race. With the minor exception of fewer participants, today's race was no different.
These races have an energy and friendliness that is not present at too many other races. People are cheerful and having a good time, and the biggest concern is making sure that the participants enjoy themselves. The snarkiness and competitiveness that runs rampant at many other races is not there; people are not looking at each other evaluating their probable speed before the race. Instead, it's a pretty supportive environment, with lots of people who are happy to see young girls out being active and having fun. Yeah, it's touchy-feely, but that's what makes it a nice change from other races.
As Team Stayput members, we had a table with Goody samples and Sharpie markers (what's the connection between Goody hair products and Sharpie markers? The girls use them to sign each other's race shirts). The girls swarmed the table, carefully picking out hair elastics and Sharpies for themselves, and invariably reported that they were having a great time and the race was a lot of fun. As I am usually on the other side of the table, this was an interesting experience. [vent]The people who stroll by the table 20 times, casually lifting a Sharpie/hair elastic for their bags each time they pass, are not nearly as subtle as they think they are. Also, we mean no harm when we ask you, the race volunteer, not to take any samples before the first finisher has even come in. We just need to make sure that we have enough for the racers. Come by later, and if there are extras we'd be more than happy to give you as many as you'd like. [/vent]
It was really a lot of fun. IM Able and M. are very cool and I had a great time with them (and it was nice to spend time with other women who get it, and not feel like you have to explain exactly why it is that you 'exercise so much'). The participants seemed to have a lot of fun, and loved the free hair elastics and Sharpies. The Girls on the Run organization has such a great mission, and gets huge props for getting girls out on a rainy Sunday morning to run a 5K and have them smiling and cheering afterwards. If you get the chance to go to one of these races, don't be scared off by the name. Go and check it out, see the girls out there doing something great, and have a great run. Trust me.