SPARTA, NJ – The Girls on the Run held their 5K on Saturday, May 13.  The cool rainy day did not discourage the girls and their families who gathered around 7:30 a.m. in the Sparta Elks Club Lodge on the Lake Mohawk boardwalk and in White Deer Plaza.

They were expecting nearly 400 girls from the New Jersey North chapter, along with others from the public.  Approximately 80 percent of the people who registered attended that day, coming from Bergen, Hudson, Passaic and Sussex counties, according to organizer Maureen Dykstra. 

The runners were led in warm ups in the plaza by Sabrina Lucas before trotting down East Shore Trail. The starting horn was sounded by Sparta Mayor Gil Gibbs. 

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Instead of tutus and other costumes, most participants and supporters were wearing ponchos.  Some even wore shower caps. There were also a couple of Girls on the Run capes flying by.

In Sparta the program pairs coaches with girls from third to fifth grade together with coaches at the Mohawk Avenue School, Helen Morgan School and Reverend Brown School.  The initiative is more than running.  The 10-week season includes discussion on relevant topics that include dealing with gossip, popularity, conflict and body image.  They seek to develop the girls' character and confidence as they gain strength through running.