SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Months of afterschool running and training came down to this moment.
Lacing up running shoes and calming butterflies in their stomachs, the roughly 20 participants in the Girls on the Run program at Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield were getting set to run in the big GOTR 5K race at the Taste of Arlington, where 2,000 participants were gathered.
They made it early to the school, and waited for the Fairfax County school bus to transport them to the big event. There, they would show they could set a goal and cross the finish line.
But there was a stumbling block. The bus, slated to take the girls to the starting line before 10 a.m., was late. At one point, parents wondered what was going on.
There were anxious phone calls, and soon it became clear: the bus was a no-show.
“I was sad and disappointed that we couldn’t run in the actual race,” says Bebe Dunlap, 10.
As a compromise, the parents and girls decided to run the race right there at Crestwood; the idea, the parents reasoned, is to teach girls to be confident and self-reliant.
One parent raced to a store to pick up crepe-paper to serve as a finish line. Others laid out the 5K course and deployed water stations, just like the kind at the 5K in Arlington.
“This is a really great community of teachers and parents,” says parent Barbara Herod. “When they finished, the parents were here to greet them. It was just really awesome how the community came together.”
Creighton Dunlap, 11, looked at the bright side. “I was actually kind of happy because my buddy runner Miss Crummet told me there was no shade there” on the route in Arlington.
“I’m just happy that I ran that far!” Dunlap says of the Crestwood route.
Creighton and Bebe’s mother, Katy Dunlap, was dissappointed that the bus didn’t show, but “the more important thing was for them to have the chance to do the race this morning after they’d been training for a couple of months.”
Still, the girls got to finish the 5K race with their