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Girls on the Run 5K arrives
Girls on the Run 1 es
Lauren McAllister, Piper Laine and Danielle Thompson prepare to run during a previous Girls On The Run event. - photo by File photo

If you’re going:

•  What: New Balance/Girls on the Run 5K
•  When: 10 a.m. Saturday; registration opens at 8:30 a.m.
•  Where: Lambert High School, 805 Nichols Road
•  Cost: $20 registration fee
•  Online:

The Girls on the Run 5K isn’t just for girls, or just for running.

The 350 girls who recently completed the 12-week Girls on the Run program will participate in the 5K, but they’ll be joined by family, friends and community members in running, walking, hopping, jumping or skipping to the finish line.

Girls on the Run Forsyth-Hall-Cherokee will hold its 10th 5K run in five years Saturday morning at Lambert High School.

The run, which is open to the public, will also feature a food drive for a local pantry.

The nonprofit Girls on the Run, which welcomes girls in third through eighth grades, has a mission to “prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.”

Throughout the program, girls explore topics focusing on values, team building and community service, while exercising and preparing for the 5K.

Executive director Cathie Brugnoli said the run gives girls the chance to meet whatever goal they’ve set for themselves to get to the finish line.

It isn’t a race, she said, but a timer will be available for those who want to know their times.

“There’s few times in life where you get to set your own goals and complete something,” she said. “I think most girls love that, to be able to find this in themselves.”

The community event also features face painting, live music, food and a Goody Happy Hair booth, where children can get their hair done in a mock beauty salon, Brugnoli said.

Her two daughters have graduated from the program and grown up, she said, but one will work at the hair booth and another as a “sweeper,” offering encouragement to the girls in the back of the pack during the run.

During the program, girls learn in teams of about 10 to 20 with at least two volunteer coaches, to whom Brugnoli said the local program owes its success.

“[The volunteers] are really the reason we’ve been able to grow,” she said, adding that the group is always welcoming new ones.

Saturday, Paige Grogan will help her fourth group of girls finish the 5K.

She started volunteering about two years ago at Silver City Elementary to spread the confidence that running helped give her.

“Because I know what it’s done in my own life,” she said, “it’s just great to see the girls discover that they can do something they never thought they could do.”

Grogan said she loves to watch some of the girls blossom from shyness to confidence over the period of the program.

“They’re very excited to run the 5K,” she said. “They’ve been practicing and working hard all season.”