Girls on the (Trail) RunFour-week program in Okinawa teaches girls to find joy and community on the trails
Anna Boom follows her 6-year-old daughter, Ellie, down the trail. Photo by Kevin Kelly.
Women who run are often happy, positive and motivated individuals. Women who run together are often all of these things, and more. Hoping to pass on these positive attributes to young girls, Anna Boom, founder of the running group Women on Okinawa Trails (WOOT), recently created a four-week trail-running camp in Okinawa for girls.
Boom was inspired by the non-profit organization Girls on the Run, which incorporates running into a 12-week character-building and fitness-promoting program for adolescent girls. Boom wanted to provide a less structured program than Girls on the Run offers, and more specifically, a trail-running program.
The girls, who range in age from 6 to 16, met on Saturday mornings to hit the trails. “For our first run,” says Boom, “we set up a nice easy course that was around 1.5 miles. We stopped a few times to pick wildflowers, sing a song, trip a few times. One girl completely wiped out, but the other girls and mentors encouraged her to wipe off the dirt and keep going.”
Each week, the girls ran a little further, and on progressively more difficult trail routes. Many of their mothers joined, along with a few other women who volunteered as “mentors” and ran alongside the girls to motivate and encourage them.
“Running is, and has been, a huge part of my life,” says Meghan Walsh, 34, one of the mentors, who ran her first race at age 11. “My hope is to pass on to the girls a love of being outdoors, exercising and enjoying a sport that a young athlete can continue for many years.”
Girls just want to have fun! Shown here are WOOT member Alana Jaime and her 7-year-old daughter, Naomi. Photo by Kevin Kelly.