with video: Girls on the Run 5K expected to draw more than 7,500 to Ypsilanti
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
The eighth semi-annual Girls on the Run 5K is coming to Ypsilanti in December. More than 2,500 individuals are expected to participate and the event will have at least 5,000 spectators, event organizers said.
Girls on the Run is an international nonprofit organization founded in 2001 that pairs volunteer coaches with girls ages 8 to 13 for a 10-week program as they navigate their tricky preteen years. Girls on the Run is broken down into local chapters that oversee specific regions.
More than 1,000 girls ages 8-14 run 3.1 miles along with their coaches, families, friends, teachers and community members, said Executive Director Danielle Plunkett. Most of the participants come from Southeast Michigan.
Initially, the girls just participated in other local 5k events, but as the program expanded, so did the interest in the 5k.
"We really saw the value in creating our own, non-competitive family-valued event," Plunkett said. "So we created it in September of 2009."
Two races take place per year, since there are two seasons annually that girls can participate in. As the girls are learning more about how to handle bullies, community service and more, they're also training for the race.
AnnArbor.com file photo
"They're doing activities and increasing their endurance," Plunkett said. "They work up to this goal over a 10 week period. It's hard for them to imagine that they can run 3.1 miles."
Even so, Plunkett said everyone crosses the line.
"It's not a timed event," she said. "There are plenty of girls who dance to the end. The goal is to just get to the end. Everyone who crosses receives a medal."
The event is open to everyone, regardless of a lack of affiliation with the group. Plunkett said since its inception, the amount of people interested in the event has continued to grow.
"We’ve noticed an increase of people coming out who just want to participate with the girls," Plunkett said
The event costs $25 for those who register on or before Wednesday, Dec. 5 and $30 on Friday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 9. All proceeds from the event benefit Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan, which oversees Washtenaw, Lenawee, Livingston, Jackson and Monroe counties. The organization is seeking to raise more than $125,000 for next year.
"We have 35 percent of our girls who receive scholarships to participate," Plunkett said.
Since being founded in 2001, the program has grown from serving 25 participants at two schools to serving more than 2,000 girls and families at more than 100 locations in southeastern Michigan this year.
"As we’re growing the percentage of girls requesting scholarships is growing," Plunkett said. "Our program and our event would not be possible without incredible support from our community. A lot of local companies and individuals make donations. (Because of that) we have never turned a girl away for a scholarship. We’re trying hard to keep that up."
The event will start on Hewitt Road, and then it will make its way to Huron River Road. The participants will also run along part of Oakwood Street and Lyman Street before going back onto Huron River Road and then onto Westview Street. The last leg of the race will be through Eastern Michigan University's Rynearson Stadium.
Hewitt Road and a portion of eastbound Huron River Drive will be closed at 9:30 a.m. Plunkett said only a portion of Huron River Drive will be closed because of its close proximity to the hospital.
The Dec. 9 event begins at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until 12:30 p.m.
Check out the video below for a previous Girls on the Run event: