Girls on the Run participants during the fall 2018 race at Sweet Briar College. Photo by Karen Smith Photography
Sweet Briar’s Dairy Loop will be abuzz with joggers and sprinters once again as Girls on the Run of Central Virginia returns to campus for one of the council’s two Spring Celebration 5Ks. The race starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 4, with pre-race activities scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
As in previous years, the challenging 5K course loops around the center of Sweet Briar’s stunning 3,250-acre campus. Setting off with a cross-country “wave” start on the athletic fields near the train station, the runners will head onto the main road that leads past Guion Science Center, the Babcock Fine Arts Center and the Fitness and Athletics Center. After passing Sweet Briar House on the left and Fletcher Hall on the right, runners will make a left down Elijah Road, loop around physical plant and back up to the traffic circle, turning left on Chapel Road. Crossing the student parking lot, they will pick up Dairy Road and head up the hill toward the riding center. After passing the horse paddocks, they will climb Monument Hill before heading back down to the athletic fields where they’ll cross the finish line.
Girls on the Run of Central Virginia is an independent council of Girls on the Run International, a network of more than 200 councils across 50 states and the District of Columbia. Girls between the ages of 8 and 13 spend 12 weeks in the program, including training to prepare for the semiannual 5K — a culminating event that recognizes and celebrates their efforts.
A Girls on the Run participant in fall 2018 at Sweet Briar College. Photo by Cris Pacho
Since fall 2011, Sweet Briar has proudly supported the program and its mission to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” It provides a picturesque route, as well as student and staff volunteers to help direct traffic, as running buddies and with pre-race activities such as face painting and the “happy-hair” station. Celebration 5Ks take place each fall and spring.
Council director Mary Hansen is expecting more than 250 girls for the May event, along with their coaches, volunteers, family, friends and community runners. In all, about 800 people will be on campus for the event.
Hansen is thankful to Sweet Briar College for hosting the event — not just because the school’s campus offers such a stunning setting, but also because its values mesh well with Girls on the Run. “The mission of Girls on the Run is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident,” she said. “The mission of Sweet Briar College is to prepare women to be productive, responsible members of a world community. Combined, these two missions help create a formidable group of individuals ready for their futures.”
It has been 14 years since Hansen began setting up the Central Virginia council, launching the program one year later at Holy Cross Regional School. In 2006, there were two teams with a total of 26 girls. Last year — and the year before, too — the council served more than 1,000 girls.
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