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Local Girls on the Run group prepares girls for more than 5K

They also learn life lessons while training for race.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 12:01 am

The goal will be the finish line this Saturday at the Frontier Run 'n' Fun 5K. But for the young members of Girls on the Run of Allen County, it's really been about the time spent working together to get there.

The 11 girls in grades 3-5 who participated in group, known as GOTRAC, have spent the past 10 weeks meeting twice a week to train for the race — and for life.

A group of adult volunteers founded GOTRAC in 2012 as a local council of Girls on the Run International, a news release said.

The Girls on the Run organization combines training to run a 5-kilometer race with other lessons to encourage girls' positive social, emotional, mental and physical development.

Girls in GOTRAC met twice weekly for the past 10 weeks at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School with head coach Kristina Ledo, assistant coaches Sanee Lombardi and Melissa Ottenweller, and junior coach Emma Perkins.

Along with running training, each meeting included a lesson, such as living with gratitude, making healthy choices, resisting peer pressure, choosing good friends, working toward goals, and avoiding gossiping and bullying, the news release said.

“I have seen changes in many of the girls,” Ledo said in the news release. “They are more outgoing, speak up more in groups and display more confidence.”

GOTRAC members include Brynn Benzing, Kristin Bobay, Olivia Carney, Victoria Carney, Gianna Gandolfo, Isabella Gandolfo, Alexandria Gulachek, Elise Huhn, Avery Jackson, Madeline Lombardi and Allison Perkins.

A “running buddy,” who is either a family member or volunteer, has agreed to train for and complete the Frontier Run 'n' Fun 5K with each girl.

The race takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday behind the Frontier Communications office on West Jefferson Boulevard east of Interstate 69.

To get ready for Saturday's race, the girls and their running buddies recently completed a practice 5K at the Parkview YMCA off Dupont Road.

For more information about the GOTRAC program or volunteer opportunities available with it, go to