Cordova Girls on the Run 5K Halloween event in third year

10-week program teaches life skills, joy of running and accomplishing goals to young girls

Several dozen racers lined Main Street in front of the Masonic Hall Oct. 28, as the Girls on the Run Costume 5K event kicked off at 10 a.m. Participants ran, walked, skipped or jogged to the halfway point on Orca Road, before returning to the finish line at the hall.

This is the third year that the Cordova Family Resource Center has sponsored the race.

CFRC Prevention Coordinator Tania Carson was this year’s GOTR head coach, a team effort by everyone at the resource center, coaches and many community partners.

“The 5K is an event that the entire CFRC team worked on, together with the help of the Girls on the Run assistant coaches, volunteers from the fire department, U.S. Coast Guard, B.I.O.N.I.C, and friends and families of the participants of Girls on the Run. Volunteers helped make the event so successful,” Carson said.

This year, 11 girls between third through sixth grades participated. The group included Salina Smith, Faith Hatch, Neva Rogers, Willow Clement, Lily Clement, Willow Tiedeman, Taylor Tiedeman, Yagnanesis Mejias, Brianna Christensen, Anika Jensen, and Phoebe Tschappat.

GOTR coaches were Yari Mejias, Stephanie Tschappat, Anne Schaefer, Carmen Anderson, Angela Butler, and Kristin Carpenter.

“And, each girl had a running buddy to run the race with her and encourage her along the route,” Carson said.

GOTR teaches girls life skills, such as recognizing and expressing emotions, appreciation for real beauty, what friendship qualities to look for when choosing a friend, and strategies to help them deal with peer pressure, bullying, or gossip, Carson said.

“This program is important for girls because they learn that when they devote their time and involvement (to something), they can accomplish great things,” she said.

The program required the girls to train twice a week for 10 weeks. During each session, coaches taught the girls a particular life skill, and incorporated running training in a fun way, she said.

“I feel that this program is important to our girls in Cordova because it shows them that they are strong, beautiful, loved by the whole community, and can accomplish big things. The girls on the team never missed a meeting. They attended all 20 sessions. That is so amazing,” she said.

The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

“Completing the 5K is so important for the girls because they accomplish the goal of running, walking, or skipping 3.1 miles, and learn about setting and completing a goal,” Carson said.

“At the beginning of the season many of the girls didn’t think they could do it. All the girls crossed the finish line.

“I also found it funny that they were surprised that the entire event – the 5K and carnival, was put on to celebrate them. Seeing them have fun and all their smiles was the best part,” she said.

Volunteers came together on race day to make the event happen.

Friends and families donated baked goods. A.C. Value Center donated candy, water and fruit.

Coaches helped run the games, and Salmon Runs coordinator Kristian Carpenter coordinated details for this race. The U.S. Coast Guard helped set up the course, timed the event, manned the registration booth, and handed out metals to finishers.

Fire department volunteers passed out water and fruit at the halfway point. Friends and family of the GOTR team also set up a table to pass out juice and snacks, and served as the girls’ running buddies.  B.I..O.N.I.C., a peer mentoring group, also helped to run the games, face paint, and clean up after the event.”

For more information on GOTR, visit Girls on the Run Greater Alaska at gotrgreateralaska.org.