Area Girls on the Run programs will conclude the 2016 season with a 5-kilometer run in Durango on Saturday.
The program, for third-through eighth-grade girls, started in 2000 in North Carolina and has since spread nationwide. It serves nearly 200,000 girls across the country, including hundreds across Western Colorado with programs in Durango, Cortez, Dolores and Mancos.
And for the second consecutive year, Durango will host a 5K race for the Western Colorado council of Girls on the Run.
After moving the event from Telluride to Durango a year ago, the turnout was astounding, with more than 600 runners. That included girls in the program, coaches, parents and community members who are also able to sign up for the event.
Last year’s turnout made it the largest 5K ever held in Durango.
Mesa Elementary held its final practice of the season on Thursday, with participating girls running 5K and friends and family joining in.
“We get all the families to come out and help out the kids and encourage them,” said coach Michelle Waltman. “The reason we do this is because over there, there are over 400 girls and its not as intimate as with the parents being right here.”
“They’ve been training two days a week for eight weeks and they’re killing it!” she continued. “Some of these girls are just natural runners and they enjoy it. Other kids, it’s not really about the running, it’s about the friendships.”
Manaugh, Kemper, Dolores and Mancos elementary schools also have programs.
Mesa expects to have 25 runners for the season-ending event on Saturday, while Manaugh expects around 27, and Dolores 16.
Coaches from Kemper Elementary and Mancos Elementary were unable to be reached, but Mac Neely reported in September that the Mancos program had 43 participants, up from last year’s 23.
This year’s final race will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Fort Lewis College.
Registration is now open for $25, and costs $35 for race-day registration, and parents are encouraged to participate with their daughters.
Durango Herald Sports Editor John Livingston contributed to this report.