Girls on the Run returns Saturday with 5K |

Girls on the Run returns Saturday with 5K

— Saturday's run is the last step, or the last 5,000 steps, if you want to be literal about it.

The Girls on the Run program wraps up Saturday, with a massive 5-kilometer run that's expected to draw nearly 1,000 participants.

The run is the final step in a 10-week journey for hundreds of young girls from the region.

"The program focuses on empowering the girls with self-awareness, self-esteem and through coaching they deal with body image and peer pressure," said Heather Gollnick, who's directing this year's run. "It's about more than running, which is really neat and why the program has gotten so popular."

Steamboat's been witness to just how big of a deal Girls on the Run is. Last year, 950 people swarmed the course, running from Steamboat Springs Middle School and up into Strawberry Park on an out-and-back course. A little more than half that number, 550, were girls participating. The rest were family, friends and other Steamboat Springs runners.

The participants come from all across the western part of the state, from Eagle, Summit, Moffat, Routt and Eastern Garfield counties.

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A group of 10 coaches help guide the local girls, meeting twice each week for running practice and discussions meant to instill those ideas of a strong identity, standing up for one’s self in a healthy manner, having a healthy body image and understanding they’re important in the community.

This year, 137 local girls participated. The local arm of the organization was started in 2009, and the run moved to Steamboat Springs in 2011. This year's run begins at 11 a.m. Registration will be at The Steamboat Grand from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and until 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the middle school.

"There will be activities right there and warmups," Gollnick said. "It's such an accomplishment for these girls, for their physical health and their emotional health, to go through this program."

The event is a part of the Winter Running Series. The next event in that series is the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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