… Is so much fun!
I was asked to be a running buddy as part of the Girls on the Run Eastern Iowa.
If you are not familiar with this organization, here is what the website has to say “a life-changing, non-profit program for girls in the 3rd through 8th grade. Our mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running”
You can read more about the program here – http://www.girlsontheruniowa.org/who-we-are
In other words it’s an after school program that teaches young girls life values while training them to complete a 5k. There are coaches that help put this program on, and then there are the running buddies who run with their participant at the practice 5k and the final 5k event.
This organization is nationwide, you can look into participating as well. I was actually familiar with the group, I have been asked to be a coach before. (I just don’t have the time) I also have ran a race or 2 with them before the organization became too big, they now have their own 5k, and no longer have to be partnered with another area race.
Ok, enough with all the background of the organization, let’s get to the race. Now if you want a race with tech shirts, open roads and racing; this event is not for you. However, if you need some inspiration or want to run your first 5k, sign up!
Mr. Shucks, the local minor league baseball mascot was there.
The 2016 spring event took place at the Cedar Rapids Prairie School complex, May 7. It was a sunny day, maybe 60-70 degrees with some humidity. Race started at 10 am.
I was not excited about the later start, but with so many area school kids coming from all around, it allowed them to all get there at a decent time.
Registration: Available online for about $25 and on race day for $30. Included with this cost was a unisex cotton t-shirt, a bib, and shoe timing chip. Race was open to everyone, not just the girls doing the program.
As a running buddy, I was only asked to run with the girl, but had to register myself, and had to check which school I was running with.
Packet Pickup/Expo: There was no expo for this event. There was packet pick up in Cedar Rapids at the Running Wild store on Thursday evening, pickup at Scheel’s in Coralville on Friday evening, and race day pick up. Someone else could get your packet.
I just picked up my bib the day of the event. I didn’t want to drive across town for the Friday event, easiest to just grab it before the race since there was so much time. I also got my cotton running shirt, I was like the only one who didn’t wear it, I just prefer tech clothing for running.
Pre Race: The event started at a school, so there was a lot of parking available, however it seemed everyone was arriving at the same time so the entrance to the lot had backed up. There were port-o-potties lined up.
I arrived with what I thought was enough time, but the parking was kind of a hassle, some lady just told me I could park on the grass, so that’s what I did.
The event started in a large open parking lot. There were school kids everywhere! They all clustered into groups based on the school they were a part of. The kids had spray painted their hair and added lots of face paint and pizazz to their running attire.
The pre race announcements started about 10 minutes before the race, this included some aerobic stretching workout. The National Anthem was sung and then participants were told to line up. There was no starting arch, but the timing mats were out and marked with some balloons on the sides.
I was shocked at how many kids were there, I think the race results listed about 1000 finishers. This event is huge. When we were doing the aerobic warm ups, it was really crowded, so we just kept moving and tried to do the movements.
Race/Course: The race is on school grounds. (same course as the CRFD Memorial 5k)
- Terrain – pavement, asphalt and limestone trail, just watch your footing. There was one section that was on narrow sidewalk – I wish they would have got a permit to run on the road for the .25 long section.
- Elevation – really flat, some incline sections but nothing steep
- Scenery – school grounds, ball fields
- Spectators on course, mostly family members
- Miles were marked with card board signs, course marked with card board sign arrows
- No photographers on course
- one water stop at the half way point, small Dixie cups
- Volunteers – they were wearing neon shirts, at all the intersections, police at the major intersection
- there were port-o-potties on the course
My Race: Since I was a running buddy, I stayed with Ava, she just turned 10. I had run the practice 5k with her on April 19, so I knew she would be able to complete the 5k. We started out in the crowd, as it was just one big glob of people to start, however this kept us at a slower pace which was great. We had to walk the first bridge crossing as it was too narrow for everyone to move along. We then chatted and walked as needed. Made sure to stop at the water stop, as Ava had been training with a water bottle. At about mile 2 I heard a lot of other runners wondering how far they were in the race, it was getting warm, and I am sure the kids wished they had more water. All the participants we passed, and that passed us shouted “good job” or “Way to go” We saw Ava’s family cheering us on, which put a smile on her face. We even skipped a portion of the course. The last half mile or so was a little slower, but once Ave saw the finish, she turned on the jets. We discussed throwing our arms into the air as we crossed the finish line. (Note to self, always check to see who else is finishing, you might elbow them in the face)
Finish/ Post Race: The finish line was also the start line, the timing mat & balloons were still there. Spectators or family members were lined up along each side of the finishing chute, behind some flags. A volunteer snagged the timing chip from your shoe.
There was post race bottled water, in 2 different sizes, bananas, bagels and popcorn being dished into small cups. There were 2 lines. These tables were set up adjacent to the finish line, so you had to double back and around to get to it.
The girls all received finisher medals and certificates from their coaches. There was a back drop set up for photos.
I forgot to hit stop on my watch, but estimated we finished around the 35 minute mark, which is excellent! I think my first 5k I finished in like 38 minutes. After checking the official results we finished 34:59.
I have mixed feelings about this race and the organization. I love that this teaches young girls about the values in life, how to be confident, and about accomplishing goals. However I wish there was more emphasis on the aspects of running, like getting a good fitting shoe or not wearing cotton to run in. (ok maybe I am a snob?) I was also confused about my role, I was just a running buddy, I showed up on race day to run a 5k, I was encouraged to go to the practice 5k, but it wasn’t required, so if you had never ran with your buddy, race day could be an adventure.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great organization…just some of my thoughts.
Also something to note, if you wanted to run this as a competitive 5k for time, this isn’t for you. However if you want to run your first 5k, this is the race to run! There is so much encouragement and positive vibes from everyone.