Be a Running Buddy for “Girls on the Run”

Girls-on-the-Run-Portland.JPGGirls on the Run still needs about 100 Portland Running Buddies!
by Kelly Barten
Run Oregon

Ladies, it’s time for you to check your calendar and sign up as a Running Buddy for the spring 2011 Girls on the Run season! The two dates you need to free up are Thursday, April 28 (4:45-about 6:30p) and Saturday, June 4 (at the 2011 Starlight Run).

Your participation will allow a girl age 8-13 to see how running can be a lifelong sport for runners of all experiences, shapes, and speeds, along with all the positives running adds to your life.

I’ve been a Running Buddy four times, and every time the experience has been wonderful. It starts out at the practice 5k, which is on Thursday, April 28 for this season. At this first meeting, the girls are usually a little nervous – imagine yourself in their shoes! – but after the first mile, they’ll be chatting away about their running, their friends, pets, families, maybe even a crush! While they’re getting a positive experience with an adult runner, you get to be 10 years old again.


(Photo by Kelly Barten) Girls on the Run made a big splash in Portland’s 2009 Starlight Run.
I’m in the back row in the blue crown, my buddy’s right in front of me in a
matching crown! (She made them for us!)

At the end of the practice 5k – which takes anywhere from 25 to 55 minutes for most girls, the entire Girls on the Run group participates in team cheers before the Running Buddies and their Girls part ways until the Real Race, which in the spring is always the Starlight Run.


(Photo by Kelly Barten) I look rather dashing with pink stripes in my hair, don’t you agree??
This was at the 2010 Starlight Run.

At the Starlight Run itself, Running Buddies all arrive at Lincoln High School wearing their brightly colored Girls on the Run shirt and wait for their Buddy to find them – because usually by this point in the program, the girls are all fast friends and wrapped up in having fun.

When the Girls find their Buddy, though, it’s another reunion and the Running Buddies usually get pulled back to their youth, writing on each other’s shirts, spraying washable hair color in their hair and just being goofy with the Girls. Everyone is excited, having fun, and feeling confident and prepared to take on the 5k.

During the run, each Running Buddy runs with their Girl at their Girl’s pace – which usually resembles a fartlek more than a steady state run, and is peppered with high-fives from the little ones lining the parade route. After being a fixture at the Starlight Run for so long, Girls on the Run and their Buddies get big cheers from the crowd waiting for the Starlight Parade.

After the run, you’ll get to say good-bye to your buddy, maybe meet their mom or dad, and exchange emails with other Running Buddies. Then you’ll be on your way, a little happier, a little more relaxed, and maybe even a little younger. To participate, you just need to register for the Starlight Run through the Girls on the Run website.

The only cost is the actual registration to the Starlight Run; you’ll also need to give them some personal information because Girls on the Run does a background check on all the Running Buddies. But I’m sure that the value of what you get is much more … sure the chance to be 10 years old again – twice – is worth more than the $30 registration fee, don’t you think!?

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