WENATCHEE — There may not have been a more festive place in the entire Wenatchee Valley on Saturday morning than at Pybus Public Market.
Yes, the new public market was enjoying its second weekend of business, with the farmers market and inside vendors attracting a large crowd. But the market also was the staging area for the inaugural Columbia Valley Girls on the Run 5K/2K race, which attracted an additional estimated 500 participants, spectators and volunteers. It was the first sporting event ever held at Pybus.
The scene was colorful with some girls getting their hair painted in the group’s trademark colors of green and pink, and others milling about inside with their families. Outside, the adults who had come to race readied themselves along the adjacent Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail.
Although the event was officially for Girls on the Run members and Peshastin Striders members, organizers opened it up to the general public and to adults as a fundraiser.
When the race finally began at 9 a.m., a large hoot arose from the runners and walkers — both big and small.
“There was a lot of excitement in the air, and the focus really was on the girls,” said Marlen Mendez, director of Girls on the Run. “Pybus is a really good venue. It gave us a lot of exposure, and we brought a lot of people to the venue who hadn’t been here before.”
Girls on the Run is an after-school nonprofit program for third- through fifth-graders that is affiliated with Columbia Valley Community Health. Besides instilling fitness, the program is meant to help girls develop a positive self-image and to better handle peer pressure.
Peshastin Striders is a running club for elementary school students in the Peshastin-Dryden area.
On the racing side of things, Doug Wood captured the men’s 5-kilometer title, covering the course in 18 minutes, 43.4 seconds, and averaging 6:02 a mile in the process. Finishing second was Wenatchee’s Dan Kavet, who was clocked in 19:25.6. Third was Erik Johnson in 21:56.0.
East Wenatchee’s Melissa Fenter won the women’s 5K in 23:22.3. Wenatchee’s Roselle Wood took second in 23:55.5.
In the 2K race, McKenna White came away with the overall title in 23 minutes and 2.2 seconds. Will White was runner-up in 24:12.7, and Molly Oswald was third in 24:15.5.
More than 360 people registered for the event, which raised money for local Girls on the Run scholarships. That included about 130 elementary school girls and their adult running buddies. The rest of the field was made up of the general public.
“This program is impacting the entire community,” Mendez said. “It’s a family event, and it’s getting everyone out and everyone running. And it doesn’t feel like it’s hard. It feels fun.”
“The event went just fantastic,” said Joel Rhyner of RunWenatchee, which organized and directed the event for Girls on the Run. “We had a huge outpouring from the community in registration numbers and volunteer support. And working with Pybus was great. Everybody I ran into who hadn’t been down there was blown away by how cool it is. Those who had been there said it was amazing to be able to do a race from there.”
Mendez said she anticipates the Girls on the Run event returning in 2014.
“There will be a Part II,” she said.