Over 400 runners gathered on Sunday, November 16 for the Fit Girls Full Hearts 5K, an event partially funded by Friends of the Marblehead Public Schools (FMPS). The Fit Girls was founded four years ago at Village School as a running and positive self-esteem group, and a key part of the program is training for and running a 5K, explained one of the Fit Girls coaches, Village School guidance counselor Mandy Murphy. The club participated in community races in years past, but “we thought organizing our own race would be a great opportunity for us to accomplish a few goals: to have an in-town event for the program, to raise much-needed funds to continue to enhance and build the Fit Girls program without raising fees, and to increase the community awareness about the program,” said Murphy. Last spring, the Fit Girls Run Club applied for and were awarded a grant to hold their own 5K.
“The race far exceeded our expectations,” said Murphy. “The feedback we got from the girls was incredibly rewarding for us to hear. While many were excited about finishing the race for the first time or completing the 5k in their fastest time, most of the feedback was focused on how they valued the amazing support of their families, friends, volunteers, and community members who were out cheering along the course. They were also proud that the race gave us the opportunity to give back to the community through the donations for the Marblehead Food Pantry.”
The positive energy of the Fit Girls Run Club made the event more than a race: it was a community-bonding event as well. “The atmosphere was so positive and supportive,” said Murphy. “We expected to see family members join in, but not to the extent that we did. The turnout of teachers and school staff was exceptional, and the race was well supported from the local running community at large whose feedback was upbeat and thoughtful. Many people who just came to run the race ended up running along side some of the Fit Girls to encourage them as they ran. The overall feeling of the event was definitely more about achieving goals and collaborative effort than winning.”
Murphy and the other Fit Girls coaches are grateful to FMPS for the grant. “The funds we received from the FMPS grant helped defray the upfront costs of organizing a race. They allowed us to provide scholarships and also pay for necessary expenses like insurance, supplies and registration costs without increasing the fees for participants. We are beyond excited to be able to hold this race annually and be self-sustaining because of the support FMPS gave to us.”
article by Michelle Abrams