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Getting girls moving is part of program's goals

Cole HamelsChase UtleyBethlehem SteelBreast CancerCitizens Bank ParkRyan Howard

Even though it's still winter as evidenced by the massive amounts of snow covering the Lehigh Valley, the temperatures are getting warmer this weekend. Robins have been spotted since February, but haven't brought the required warm weather to send many of us out in shorts.

Except for runners.

No matter the temperature, there is always some runner out there willing to head out onto the road in shorts and display chapped, wind-burned legs..

Runners are hitting the outdoor roads more frequently as we get closer to spring, and others are gearing up to get their run on.

Girls on the Run of Lehigh County is starting up its elementary school program this month with the first school putting foot to the pavement on March 17.

The after-school program goes far behind teaching young women the ins and outs of running.

According to Liz Fones, the council director for GOTRLC, it is an activity-based positive youth development program designed to enhance the girls' social, psychological and physical competencies to better handle life's challenges.

Girls on the Run is an international program. In some locations, the individual chapter is its own non-profit. The Lehigh County chapter is an affiliate of Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries.

The after-school program sets the girls up with coaching and counseling, teaching them about self-esteem, self-respect, positive self-image, anti-bullying and goals.

"It's an actual curriculum we purchase through Girls on the Run international," said Fones of Allentown. "The girls go after school twice a week for 90 minutes, and it's not so much a running program as it is to help the girls learn how to be healthy with a positive outlook."

The culmination of the 10-week program in the spring is the Girls on the Run 5K in the Little Lehigh Parkway in June.

The Women's 5K Classic, which sponsors its own run in October as a fundraiser for breast cancer and community running programs, has donated $121,000 to the program since 2006.

This year's program will encompass about 350-375 girls, and the number for the GOTR 5K will increase to about 700-800 with the inclusion of the coaches and running buddies.

"They learn how to achieve by setting a goal and following through," Fones said.

The steering committee for GOTRLC is a powerhouse of local people, including world class runner Kathleen Jones of Runner's World, Betty and Bill Anton of Mertztown, Joie Barry of Macungie, Ellen Bishop of Allentown, Kathleen Dent of Allentown, Rhonda Dietz of Emmaus, Lisa Fiore of Macungie, Karen Flank of Breinigsville, Sabrina Hallick of Orwigsburg, and Kathy Roach, the director of Permanency Services at Diakon Adoption and Foster Care in Topton.

A total of 22 Lehigh County elementary schools, one with two teams, enrolled for the spring program.

Citizen's Bank Park Run or Dye 5K: You can run and get blasted with all sorts of colors inside the home of the Philadelphia Phillies when Citizens Bank Park hosts the "Run or Dye 5K" on April 19.

Like the "Color" run and other paint-drenched runs, the "Run or Dye" is an eco-friendly technicolor-blasted celebration of life, friendship, fitness and fun on an untimed 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) course. This course just happens to be on the grounds where the Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels and play.

All participants receive a shirt, color packet and an event race number. Phillies fans will receive a discount of $5 ($10 if registering as part of a team) if they register by April 5. Go online to register at http://www.runordye.com/locations/Philadelphia and enter the Coupon Code RUNPHILLY at the end of the registration form.

Gearing Up for the Future: Community Bike Works, the after school inner-city outreach program for at-risk youth, is celebrating its youth leaders and honoring founder Stefan Goslawski at its first Gearing up for the Future event and auction 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 13 on the Club Level at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

Community Bike Works was founded to provide support for at-risk youth while teaching students positive skills and commitment in order to earn bicycles or paychecks as bicycle mechanic instructors.

Tickets are $75 per person or $150 per couple. Discounted rates are available for Community Bike Works student alums and others for whom cost is a consideration. For more information, contact Kim Schaffer at 610-434-1140.

New chairman: Andrew Ralston, a partner with the Gross McGinley Law Firm, LLP in Allentown, has been elected the new chairman of the board for The Velodrome Fund, Inc., the funding entity that controls the Valley preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown.

Ralston replaces Hilda Patton, who has served in that post since 2009. Patton remains with the board on the Executive Committee.

Date for Runner's World Half-Marathon set: The third-annual Runner's World Half-Marathon and Festival will be held Oct. 17-19 in Bethlehem.

The festival weekend includes a 5K, 10K, and half marathon along with kids races, seminars, live music, and the return of the Hat Trick (running in the 5K, 10K and half marathon).

The courses will go encompass Bethlehem's historic neighborhoods, including some of the town's original 1741 settlement, the Lehigh and Moravian campuses, and the former Bethlehem Steel complex.

A preliminary schedule includes seminars, live music, running films, and prerace dinner with the Runner's World staff.

Friday's events will include kid's races, children's programming, and a children's competitive mile with prize money going to the top six winners' schools. Saturday features the 5K and 10K races, followed by the half marathon on Sunday.

For more information or to register, go to http://rw.runnersworld.com/rwhalf/about.html

gary.blockus@mcall.com

610-820-6782

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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