I got this beautiful bling today at the Girls on the Run 5k in Baton Rouge.   
From their website:  
Girls on the Run, (GOTR), is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls, (3rd – 8th grade), to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. The volunteer-led program weaves training for a 5K run with fun, experience-based lessons that improve self-awareness, build a collection of positive experiences and inspire life-changing confidence through accomplishment.
I had an AMAZING time at this 5k.  The course took us around the campus of Pennington Biomedical Research Center.  We ran on sidewalks and through parking lots, down a path in an adjacent field and around a lovely man-made lake.  The temp this morning was a little shy of 80° degrees paired with 80% humidity which felt like about 112° to me. The race had great sponsorship and volunteerism.  It was very organized and upbeat with lots of support along the route.  Oh yeah, and they served a pancake breakfast post-race!

The amazing part of this race was lining up with hundreds of children and observing the experience they shared with their adult running buddy in this 3.1 mile run.  It appeared that the running buddy was one of the GOTR coaches who worked with small groups of youth during the training season, a runner who volunteered for the race, or a parent.   It was adorable, inspiring – at times hilarious and surprisingly touching.

OK – this is not a picture of the start of the Baton Rouge GOTR 5k. It just felt like this. (photo from the GOTR website.)

This was the start of the GOTR Baton Rouge 5k – May 5, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed watching and eaves dropping on the interactions between the girls and their running buddy during the race.  A few stick out in my mind:
Said by an adult volunteer to her young girl running buddy: “I’m staying right here with you.  If you sprint, I’ll try to keep up with you, if you need to walk, I’ll walk with you.  If you want to stroll, we’ll stroll together.  I’m with you to the end.  We will do this.”
From a father to his young daughter:  “Come on now, you are doing great, we’re 2/3 of the way in, that means only .34 to go.”  He said point three four…nice math reinforcement. J  Then he said:  “And listen …. Daddy is so proud of you.”     Awwww!
I think what I’ll remember most are the exuberant smiles and expressions of triumph when the girls ran across the finish line.  It touched my heart to see several friends from BGR! BR finishing with their daughters. I also loved the support and encouragement from the crowd shown to each child as they approached the end.  Everyone hooted and cheered as if each child was their child.   I stayed along the finish for a half hour tearing up and whoo hooing on these beautiful young people.   Love love loved it!
Hats off to Girls on the Run Baton Rouge for your service and mentoring of our girls on and off the pavement.  Kudos also to title sponsor Run Louisiana for a job well done.  And big thanks to friend and GOTR coach Vanessa D for sharing about this organization and encouraging others to get involved.  Vanessa says it well, running means much more when it is about more than running. 
I’m looking forward to helping in next year’s season.

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