Cactus Valley runners are most certainly an inspiring bunch |

Cactus Valley runners are most certainly an inspiring bunch

Bringing It Home
Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I feel fortunate to have an occupation that frequently allows me to witness the various elements of the sporting world that make it such a valuable part of our culture. Athleticism, teamwork, hard work, passion, honest competition, super-human moments and the joy and inspiration sports bring to all that participate in them.

Recently, I received a hardy serving of all of it when I watched almost 50 third-through fifth-grade girls train in the Girls on the Run program at Cactus Valley Elementary School in Silt.

Watching these young girls become better equipped to take on the world, not only by being healthier physically, but by learning lessons that will help them become better people, was a wondrous sight. While their season culminates in a 5K, the tools they are acquiring will last forever.

Girls on the Run groups may not fit the traditional standards for a team. After all, the results will be listed individually when the girls run in the Wondergirl 5K in Grand Junction. But the girls who join together to become stronger mentally and physically are a team. They train together, sweat together and work together ” just like track teams.

As I watched the Silt group run around Cactus Valley Elementary School, each lap took more and more out of them. Cramps and fatigue started to set in and, if only one girl would have been out there running, she probably would have stopped.

Then two girls, who ran side by side, began their last lap. I heard one say she was tired and asked her friend if they could just walk for a little bit. Without hesitation, the other encouragingly said, “Come on, let’s keep going.”

She slowed her pace a little to compromise with her tired friend, who used the gesture as energy and motivation to press on. Soon after the duo disappeared around the school, I saw them come around the next time, still running and now with the desire to finish propelling them to complete the last lap.

Throughout the afternoon I spent with the girls, I heard Suzanne Simon, who brought Girls on the Run to Cactus Valley, say “inspired” multiple times. After hanging out with them for one training, I understood her repetitive use of the word, as it was a feeling that consumed me as well.

A few moms of girls in the organization have also been inspired by their daughters and their friends. So much so that they have come out to run with the girls.

One on Wednesday said she couldn’t do a partial lap before she ran with them but then celebrated going two miles. Again, I was inspired.

It’s no wonder that in a decade of existence, Girls on the Run has already picked up more than 40,000 members. The program’s inspiration spreads like wildfire, and I hope someday every elementary school in the country will offer it as one of its after-school activities.

Contact Joelle Milholm: 384-9124

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