• 5K race is all about girls getting off to a good start
    By Erin Mansfield
    Correspondent | June 01,2014
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    Albert J. Marro / Staff Photos

    A group of girls from Barstow Memorial School in Chittenden ham it up Saturday morning prior to the Girls on the Run 5K Race in Rutland.
    “There’s a rainbow over Rutland right now,” Mandy Mayer told a crowd of pre-teen girls at the Rutland fairgrounds Saturday morning.

    “If you have any of that gray, murky, yucky cord in you, can you just pull that out?” Mayer said, pretending to yank something out of the top of her head. “I want you to plug in your Girls on the Run cord.”

    Mayer is a Girls on the Run coach at Mettawee Community School in West Pawlet. At her urging, more than 900 girls picked up invisible cords and plugged them into the tops of their heads. Thus powered up, they started moving around, stretching and dancing — preparing for the second annual Girls on the Run 5K Race in Rutland.

    The nonprofit organization’s programs, which serve girls in grades 3-8 nationwide, combine a fitness program with a curriculum on building confidence and making good life choices. Founded in 1999, Vermont’s organization serves more than 3,000 girls; it has doubled in size in the past five years.

    “I think my favorite part of Girls on the Run is that we celebrate every single girl for who she is,” said Mayer, who has been coaching for 10 years.

    “In many sports, it feels like there are some girls who are better, but in this sport everyone is the same,” she said. “Everyone wears number 1 to show that we each are special.”

    Including the girls, more than 1,000 people converged on the Rutland fairgrounds for the race, which was also open to friends and family of both genders.

    Many participants had their hair sprayed pink or green by the Rutland High School girls lacrosse team, and many sported temporary tattoos on their faces. Others went for a painted-on moustache.

    At the sound of “Go!” from Mary Moran, superintendent of Rutland City schools, participants took off from the western exit of the fairgrounds and ran or walked the closed course near Forest Street before darting to the finish line just behind the grandstands.

    Alice Garner, 11, of Norwich, finished first in just over 21 minutes. It was her first race, and she said she could not have done it without her new friend, Phoebe.

    “She really helped me,” Garner said. “We met at the beginning of the race.”

    “It’s more about the event and the camaraderie and the self-esteem than the time,” said Tara Lidstone, the coach at Wallingford Elementary School.

    “Some girls have a goal of a certain time, and some girls have a goal just to finish,” she added.

    “At the end my friend Cheyenne came and said, ‘Come on, let’s finish!’” said third-grader Cyd Edge-Gerrol, 9, of Wallingford, who had never run a race before.

    “She was running so fast that I almost tripped, but I was laughing so hard that I didn’t care,” Edge-Gerrol said.

    Fifth-grader Kassidy Velde, 10, of Rutland Town, also finished without timing her race. Usually, she said, a 5K race takes her 26 minutes, and she likes it when people push her to run instead of walk.

    “It’s really really fun, and you get to meet new people,” Velde said. “It makes you feel like you can do anything.”
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