Seventy-one people participated in an Oct. 26 5K run through Cordova, many wearing Halloween costumes or other whimsical outfits. The event was organized through Cordova Family Resource Center’s Girls on the Run program, which focuses on physical and emotional self-development for girls in grades three through six.
Runners included Girls on the Run members, other Cordova residents and visiting students from Wasilla. Participation was up from 2018’s 5K run, said CFRC Prevention Coordinator Emily Stoddard. This was Stoddard’s first year at the helm of Girls on the Run.
“Fully wrapping my head around the program and meeting the expectations of the community was a challenge,” Stoddard said.
This year’s program drew an unusually high number of third graders, Stoddard said.
Beginning Aug. 20, the program’s 12 participants met twice per week at Mt. Eccles Elementary School to run laps and study ways to manage and to understand emotions. Lessons typically included techniques like breathing exercises used to pause and reflect rather than acting out an unconsidered emotional reaction.
“When they go into junior high, each girl will have some of those social skills, so she doesn’t feel like she has to be part of a group,” Stoddard said. “She’ll know that, even by herself, she’s a strong person.”
This year, participants received complimentary waterproof bags, running shoes and water bottles, as well as fresh produce snacks donated by AC Value Center.
The Oct. 26 run was the culmination of 10 weeks of training. The run was followed by games held at Mt. Eccles Elementary School, where kids participated in activities like “fishing” for goodie bags using a clothespin on the end of a line.
Participating girls also put together thank-you books and platters of cookies and Danishes for Cordova’s Alaska State Troopers, police department, fire department and emergency medical services.
Throughout the program, Stoddard was assisted by four volunteer coaches. She hopes that they will be available to return for next year’s program, she said.
“All the volunteers that stepped up or made donations were — I don’t want to say they were greatly appreciated, because it was more than that,” Stoddard said. “With the CFRC, we can only do so much. Without volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to make the 5K and spooky games what they were.”