For the first time in Girls on the Run's history, the organization will host one of its signature 5K races in Loudoun.

This year, Girls on the Run will host two races in December, one at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 2 at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, and the other 8 a.m. Dec. 3 at the Dulles Town Center.

The organization founded its northern Virginia (GOTR NOVA) chapter in 2000. Since then it has supported girls in developing confidence and character using a research-based, after-school curriculum that utilizes running as a tool to build self-esteem. The 5K is the culmination of this program.

"It's a powerful celebration of confidence and strength," GOTR NOVA Marketing and Communications Manager Jennifer Passey said.

The program is delivered over a 10-week season by trained volunteer coaches who mentor and guide 8 to 13-year-old girls through lessons that promote healthy lifestyles and a positive self-image.

While in the program, girls participate in lessons that encourage positive emotional, social, and physical development. Girls also develop strategies needed to navigate current and future life challenges.

For many of the race's participants, it will be their first experience running a road race.

"You can't not get a little bit teary as you see their faces as they cross the finish line," Passey said.

This fall season, 14 Loudoun County Public Schools have teams participating in the 5K:

-Arcola Elementary School

-Buffalo Trail Elementary School

-Catoctin Elementary School

-Farmwell Station Middle School

-Frederick Douglass Elementary School

-J. Michael Lunsford Middle School

-Liberty Elementary School

-Loudoun Country Day School

-Lowes Island Elementary School

-Rolling Ridge Elementary School

-Rosa Lee Carter Elementary School

-Sterling Elementary School

-St. Theresa Catholic School

-Sugarland Elementary School

These 14 teams will be participating in the 5K event along with other teams from surrounding counties, including Arlington and Fairfax County Schools. Community Runners of all abilities are welcome to register for the 5K through the organization's website, www.gotrnova.org/5k.

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