Sports

Bainbridge's Go Run! began on a run

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photos
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photos

Last Saturday’s seventh annual Solstice Run attracted nearly 200 runners and walkers, the most ever. For many participants, it was a chance to race in somewhat challenging conditions. For more than 20 fifth and sixth graders, it was a graduation exercise.

They were the latest group to go through Go Run!, a program that began in the spring in 2006 with five participants. Demand this year was so high that the group split into two sections. One met on Mondays and Wednesdays, the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The roots of Go Run! dates back to 2004, when islanders Heidi Washenberger and Anne Howard Lindquist were on a run together.

“We were talking about how we got started,” Washenberger said. “The fifth and sixth grades were key for me. Girls at that age are going through transitions. There is an important social dynamic going on.”

The two talked with Kay Jensen, one of the island’s best-known proponents of running and other forms of fitness, who encouraged them to develop their idea. One source of information was the Women’s Sports Foundation, whose GoGirlGo! (http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/GoGirlGo.aspx) program provided a useful curriculum guide.

Eventually Go Run! evolved into a nonprofit organization, with a four-person board of directors. Jensen serves as president, with Sandra Anderson, Patty Molloy and Lisa Kniginyzky also involved with the board.

Washenberger and Howard Lindquist serve as co-executive directors. Both are longtime runners who began successful competitive careers in high school. They also bring professional knowledge to the program. Washenberger is a physical therapist, while Howard Lindquist has a master’s degree in public health and coaches the high school cross country team.

Several BHS harriers help out with the program, including freshman Annika Torseth, who was a member of the inaugural group. Two others, Annie Taylor and Rebecca Sharar, used their experience with the program to become one of just 20 successful applicants (out of more then 200) to receive a $2,500 grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation to benefit the BHS girls cross country team. This fall, Go Run! also welcomed Western Washington University student Kim Thompson, who assisted to fulfill a requirement of her bachelor’s degree program

Go Run! programs are held twice a year, with seven-week sessions that culminate with entry into one-mile runs in established races. The fall session begins in late October and ends shortly after the Solstice Run, while the spring session is timed to coincide with the Viking Fest Run in mid-May. The cost is $90, with scholarships available. Washenberger and Howard Lindquist emphasize that the program is open to all fifth- and sixth-grade girls regardless of perceived athletic ability.

“We tell the girls not to worry about being the fastest today,” Howard Lindquist said. “They will have a long time to improve. And even in the seven weeks, they have already shown a ton of improvement.”

Typically, one of the two practice days is devoted to sprinting, relay games and other types of speed work. The other involves longer runs, with the objective being able to run from Sakai to Bainbridge High School and back, a distance of nearly two miles. The program also goes beyond running, including issues involving self-respect, body image, dealing with bullying, nutrition and more.

“Sports in general is good for dealing with a lot of issues,” Howard Lindquist explained. “We have discussions about how sports and being on a team can help with other areas of life.”

For information, contact Washenberger at 855-8685 or Howard Lindquist at 780-6923.

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