Gotta Run: Celebrating Girls on the Run

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 28, 2021

On Sunday, Nov. 14, Salisbury Community Park was the gathering place for hundreds of girls, their families and running buddies. The fall class of Girls on the Run celebrated as most of the elementary and middle school girls on hand ran their first 5K under perfect weather. Not always the case, weather was a friend this year to the celebration with blue skies and mild temperatures. Each girl had a designated running buddy, someone who accompanied them on the course for encouragement.

Girls on the Run first brought their fall celebration to Salisbury and Catawba College in 2013. The event moved to Salisbury Community Park in 2017, preferable because the 3.1-mile course could be completed without going outside of the park and onto public roads.

Our runners club and Salisbury Parks and Recreation were big players at the event, but nothing like a solid group of volunteers led by Lindsay Peiffer from GOTR. I met Lindsay for the first time this year amid her planning process of about six months. She started out as a GOTR coach back home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 2016 and completely fell in love with the program. At the time, Lindsay was working for the local YMCA and coaching for GOTR when she saw a Girls on the Run coordinator position opening with the YMCA in Wilmington. Most GOTR councils are considered independent, but Girls on the Run of Coastal Carolina is affiliated with the Y.

Lindsay said, “It was perfect. My two favorite things combined! I applied, accepted the position and made the move down to Wilmington in January of 2017. I learned so much about being a program manager and race director in my 4 1/2 years in Wilmington. Over those years my love and passion continued to grow for Girls on the Run, but I knew one day I wanted to work for an independent GOTR council. My wish and dreams came true with my position here with Girls on the Run of the Greater Piedmont working alongside an amazing group of people who share my love of the program tenfold!”

GOTR is much more than just a running program. Lindsay said, “Girls on the Run opens up a safe and empowering space for girls in grades third through eighth to tap into what makes them unique, how to activate their limitless potential and how to build the confidence they’ll need to chase their dreams now and throughout their life. Girls on the Run practices emphasize the important connection between physical and emotional health. At the end of the program, girls complete a 5K, which provides a tangible sense of accomplishment, setting a confident and goal-oriented mindset into motion. We envision a world where every girl knows her worth, her power and her strength to pursue anything she wants for her life.”

From Overton Elementary, Robert Black said, “Ellie really enjoyed the camaraderie and getting into running. She’s excited to be able to continue GOTR in the future.”

Jillian Gersch from Hanford Dole Elementary said, “Girls on the Run has impacted me so much as a coach by creating positive relationships with the girls in a space where they can be their true selves.”

GOTR had solid participation in the fall 2021 season, especially with COVID still around and some schools being hesitant in hosting after-school programs. GOTR continued to utilize parks and greenways and local community sites along with the normal school sites to allow for more options for the girls in our area to participate. Participation came back this season with 303 girls served, 80% of where they were in fall of 2019. There were 31 overall teams and nine of those were from Rowan. The 2022 spring season registration opens on Feb. 1 and the season will start the week of March 14.

Local racing continues this coming Saturday with the Freeze Your Buns 5K in Spencer, part of the Winterfest festival. SRR’s popular Santa’s Run for Hunger and Bigfoot Reunion Celebration 5K follows on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Millbridge Ruritans building across from Sloan Park. Look for these and other events at .