An End to the Girls on the Run Fall Season

By Aidyn Gleason, Photographer

On one Saturday each November, streets in St. Louis along with those in 209 other cities across North America are closed down from the early morning until almost midday. They’re reserved for the country’s 130,000 girls who are part of Girls on the Run councils in their city. Canyon Dubis is a fifth grader at Becky-David elementary school in St. Charles and has been a part of Girls on the Run for three years. 

“I’d heard a lot of good things about it that made me want to join,” Dubis said. “I’ve enjoyed making friends and a lot of other people enjoy running and the lessons too. It’s just a lot of fun being here.” 

Since its founding in 1996, Girls on the Run has reached over 1.6 million girls. With physical training to prepare members for a 5k at the end of the fall season, the program also offers girls valuable lessons about confidence, care, and compassion. It’s available for elementary students from third to fifth grade, and additionally, girls in middle or even high school have the opportunity to be junior coaches. Amy Darling is a teacher at Becky-David as well as a runner herself who has been volunteering as a coach with the program for just a few years. 

“I think that they have a really good mission statement as far as just empowering girls to be their best both mentally and physically,” Darling said. “And the challenge to run that 5k at the end is a really good goal for them to set. 

Becky-David’s Girls on the Run program was started ten years ago by Sarah Pipes, one of the schools’ program coordinators. The ten-week program exists in hundreds of schools, supported by teachers like Pipes who have opted to start a Girls on the Run council at their school. At the race, girls run with friends, coaches, teachers, siblings and parents or even extended family.

“One of the biggest things for me is, at the race to watch their pure pride and joy in themselves for finishing a 5k,” Pipes said. “And then there’s smaller stories of girls who didn’t have friends making ones through Girls on the Run. They make connections, it’s more than just running. It’s about them being proud of themselves and making new friends and learning to understand themselves for who they are in the world and where they fit in.”