By Mark Boshnack The Daily Star
---- — Scattered showers Sunday did not dampen the enthusiasm of those interviewed before the start of a 5k race in Cooperstown.
More than 1,000 people participated in Sunday’s Girls on the Run of Central New York 11th Annual 5k race, which started at 2 p.m. at the Clark Sports Center. This included about 600 members of the regional Girls on the Run program. While the race serves as the culmination of the 10-week program that starts in mid-March and ends in mid-June, the noncompetitive race is open to all, council director Sally Trosset said. The turnout was about the same as last year.
Girls on the Run is a character development program for girls in third through eighth grades, according to the organization’s website.
Delaware Academy Elementary Girls on the Run coach Pam Dorr said Sunday’s event “is better than Christmas.” She said she likes seeing the girls’ “pride and sense of accomplishment. It’s really impressive.”
There are 50 teams at 30 locations in area elementary, middle schools and community centers, Trosset said. The programs meet twice a week and includes life lessons such as bullying prevention, media awareness and community service. The focus is on girls as individuals, as part of a group and interacting with the world around them. The 5k race is the only time of the year that all the girls are together.
Those who shared an opinion on the event included two girls from Delaware Academy Elementary School.
Ava Green, 11, said the first year she was eligible she didn’t participate, but when a friend said she enjoyed it, Green decided to give it a try. “I like how it gives solutions to problems,” like bullying, she said. “It’s a lot of fun to run,” whether it is as part of a game or around the track, she said.
This is the second year for Isabella Cecce, 9. “It’s really fun,” she said.
Each year is different even though some of the same topics might be discussed, she continued.
Other girls who said the program is a valuable experience included two 11-year olds who are in their third year of participation at the site at Greenlawn Elementary School in Bainbridge. Gina Haddad, 11, said it gives her more self esteem. She said she was looking forward to the race. Marissa Cuozzo said the program helps her communicate better with friends. “I love it,” she said, adding that it helps her get in shape for the race.
Members of the Cooperstown Elementary School program were also enthusiastic. Madison Hayes, 9, said she started this year. She said she likes that it is a bully-free event. She has learned about avoiding peer pressure. It is also the first year for Lauren Koffer, 8. She said she enjoyed learning about different exercises, including yoga.
It was the third year for two other girls in the same program. Emma Grover, 11, said its a stress-free environment place where you can “hang-out, get in shape and have fun.” Ashley Kiuber, 10, said it helps her feel good about herself and get some exercise. She said that the day provided good running weather. “You can keep a good pace.”
Race director John Hodgson said the turnout was “amazing.” It is one of the easiest races he has been involved with over the years. The coaches take care of the girls and volunteers take care of the registration, he said.