Nearly 450 girls, culminating a 12-week Girls on the Run training program, participated in the 5k run today at Saluda Shoals Park. Combined with their coaches, an estimated 1 ,000 ran the 5k course Saturday.
Designed for girls from the 3rd to 8th grades, the program combines training for the 5k with lessons on emotional, physical, social and intellectual development.
Started nationally in 1996, the Girls on the Run program came to Columbia in 2005, local council director Mary Lohman said. "In 2005 we had one team of 15 girls," Lohman said. This year, 35 teams from 29 locations in Richland, Lexington and Sumter counties participated in the Fall program.
Funding for the programs comes from sponsors, donors, fundraisers and registration fees, Loham said. About 35% of the girls participate on scholarship.