Girls on the Run ready for Fun Run Saturday

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Clomp. Thump.

The sound of sneakers scrapping on the dirt track behind Rio Grande Elementary School resonates throughout the school’s field. Twelve girls practicing for their upcoming 5K fun run complete lap after lap while shouting encouraging words to each other for those struggling to keep up.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: Participants with Girls on the Run Rio Grande warm up with drills during one of their practices. Pictured, from left, are Trinity Rael, Ashlee Olsen, Autumn Torres and Hailie Baca. The girls are training for the GOTR’s inaugural 5K Fun Run scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 25, at Belen High School.

But Girls on the Run Rio Grande isn’t just building physical endurance in third- and fourth-grade participants to complete a 3.2 mile run.

Organizers are combining training for GOTR’s inaugural 5K Fun Run, scheduled for 9 a.m., Saturday, May 25, at Belen High School, with interactive fitness to inspire positive development through a self-esteem curriculum, said Carol Castillo, GOTR council director.

The after-school program, serving Valencia and Bernalillo counties, aims to educate and prepare preteen girls for a lifetime of self respect and healthy living through running. They’re gaining the skills needed to make positive decisions and avoid falling into risky, adolescent behaviors and unhealthy lifestyles, Castillo said.

Serena Saiz, 10, said she absorbed how to cooperate with others, while fourth-grader Iyanna Martinez said she grasped how to make healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthy and exercising daily.

La Merced Elementary fifth-grader Ashlee Olsen said she can now run farther than she could before the program and knows she can rely on her new friends if she ever needs to talk about anything.

The fun run marks the completion of the non-profit organization’s first run of the program with girls in Belen Consolidated Schools. Students from Rio Grande Elementary, La Merced Elementary and Central Elementary began training for the 12-week program in mid-February.

Twice a week for about an hour and a half the group meets to train the girls, interjecting running drills and games with the lessons.

Lessons 10-year-old Hailie Baca learned are how to deal with peer pressure, pace oneself while running and the difference between positive and negative attitudes.

Rio Grande Elementary fourth-grader Arianna Gurule said she picked up “to think positive about myself and help others think positive about themselves.”

Alyrika Armenta, 11, added, “I learned how to help my friends be more positive than negative about themselves.”

In the fall, organizers aim to add locations of the program to more schools in Belen and bring the program to Albuquerque.

“The goal is to be able to offer this to every girl in Valencia County for the elementary program,” Castillo said.

To learn more or to volunteer for the program, call Carol Castillo at 681-0039, or email her at carol.castillo@girlsontherun.org.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.