To the participants of an upcoming Columbus 5K, “run like a girl” is more than just a saying.
With 28 years of experience in hosting and promoting running and racing events, Central Ohio’s ULTRAFIT-USA is hosting its first for-women only race, Run Like a Girl Columbus, Saturday to provide a comfortable space for women to get active.
“We wanted to do something specific for women,” said Jeff Sheard, president of ULTRAFIT-USA. “Some of them are intimidated, I think, to be in a big race with guys and it’s comfortable doing it with women.”
The Run Like a Girl event will feature a half marathon, a 5K and a 10K.
Sheard, who has an active sports background, wanted to create an event to motivate women who have never participated in a running event out of fear or a lack of encouragement to embark on a healthy lifestyle involving exercise.
“A lot of people, when they grow older, they have families and they forget about themselves,” Sheard said. “The idea is to kind of kick start something and have some fun, and hopefully this will be a catalyst to a lifestyle change.”
The idea to have a women-only race first came about when Sheard heard from a friend who was involved in a similar race in Florida. Sheard asserts that organizing this race was never about satisfying a personal need.
“It’s not about me,” Sheard said. “It’s the opportunity to help these women get some exercise.”
Erica Kelly, president of the Running Club at Ohio State and a fourth-year in biology, said she sees this race as a good way for mothers, who may have had any hesitation about joining a race, to feel more comfortable doing it.
“I know a lot of women are caught up with being mothers and they’re really busy, and they may not have a lot of time to train, so it’s easy for them to feel like they don’t have what it takes to go out there and run a half marathon with all these other people,” Kelly said. “Taking the men out of the picture makes it more doable for them, and I think that’s great.”
Boys and girls of ages 10 and under are also welcome to join the race with the ladies in the Mcdonald’s-sponsored 100-yard dash specifically for kids that will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
This race will allow the chance for women to be as equally-respected as men, Kelly said.
“It’s a great opportunity for ladies to battle out for the top places with the spotlight on them for once, because I know a lot of times, people are focusing on who comes in first, second and third and that’s mostly going to be the men,” Kelly said. “In this case, they’re going to get the spotlight on them.”
Proceeds from this event will help benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training and the American Heart Association Go Red For Women.
Team In Training is a “sports endurance fundraising program” that aims to supply a support system for anyone who is willing to partake in marathons and races, and at the same time, helps the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reach its goals, according to Alysia Smith, Central Ohio’s Team In Training manager.
“We have various approaches to encourage participants to run,” Smith said. “We train them, and we provide support and encouragement along the way.”
In this particular event, Team In Training is sending volunteers to help out at the sidelines.
“There will be about 35 to 37 Team In Training volunteers helping out on event day with water stations,” Smith said. “There are also going to be some men in tuxes at the finish line handing out wine bottles, and some will be helping to spread awareness about Team In Training at the finish line.”
ULTRAFIT-USA has made the arrangements so that Team In Training will be receiving donations in the form of proceeds from the sales of a food truck that will be selling cupcakes on that day.
The race starts and ends at Columbus Commons, which is located at 160 S. High St., and includes going through the running trails of the Scioto Waterfront. The 5K and the 10K are scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and the half marathon is scheduled to start at 8:20 a.m. Registration is still open through the Run Like a Girl Columbus website, and prices vary per race and time of registration.
All participants will receive a custom-made “Run Like a Girl” medal.