Sunday, February 24, 2013

Girls on the Run has come to Morris County

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey

On Sunday, February 24, 2013

Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013

If you’ve been to a number of 5K’s in New Jersey it very likely that you have seen a flock of girls running in what appears to be their very first race.  They look excited, tired, and exalted as they finish the race.   If so, you have been introduced to the Girls on the Run.  If the girls don’t seem that fast then you need to understand the program.

The Girls on the Run website states that the program is a life changing character development program for girls from third grade to eighth (sixth, seventh, and eighth grade girls are in the Girls on the Track program).

The dynamic ten week program combines training for a 5k with education and interactive discussions about critical issues that will affect pre-teen girls as they reach adolescence. Trained volunteer coaches teach life lessons to girls through fun and clever running games and workouts.

The goal is not to teach the girls how to run fast but to help the girls to be physically, mentally and emotionally stronger and better prepared to overcome the challenges and pressures of adolescence and beyond.

 Ruth Dekker of Chatham was a volunteer coach for two years and is now part of the paid staff that is helping with the burgeoning programs in Morris County.  Dekker had hands on experience as a volunteer coach when her daughter Ellie was in the program.  She’s also a runner who found the sport when she was growing up and didn’t fit in well at team sports.

“People would say that I should play basketball like my brothers,” she said.  “I tried every sport but I just didn’t have that kind of coordination.  Then I started running.”

“Running was something that you didn’t have to feel like an athlete or be super coordinated.  I started running with my dad and now I still run and I still compete in races,” said Dekker.  “I found it very therapeutic.  I also found it was a good way to be part of a team.”

“I found that running was good for my well being and my sense of myself,” she said.  “When I heard about Girls on the Run I jumped on it.”

“The emphasis is not so much about running but it is more about self esteem and running is a tool,” she said. “Whether you are an athlete or not, that feeling of establishing a goal and crossing the finish line.  It’s wonderful to see the girls do that.”

The spring programs will begin the end of March and will culminate at a local 5K race.  Each group takes only 45 girls and they fill up fast.  The registration opens on March 1st at 9:00 a.m. and Dekker expects that some of the classes will fill in just minutes. 

To become a volunteer coach, or enroll a daughter you can find more information at


The USATF long distance running clubs will be heading to Rockaway on Thursday for the much anticipated committee meeting.  The attendees will be voting for or against the implementation of eight proposed rules.  More accurately in some cases, the proposals are not rules per se, but methodology in the scoring of the teams and the year end determination of how the teams will be listed.

There will be plenty of debating on almost all of them, but the one most hotly debated is likely to be the rule that would end the practice of using the same runner on two different teams within a club.  The so called “double dipping” has been in existence since the inception of the team grand prix.  It is considered essential to some clubs that do not have a large enough base to fill out complete teams in an age division without “borrowing” a runner from an older age division.

Location, directions and start time for the meeting is at the website, under Long Distance Running.

Race Results can often be found at or at 
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

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