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Girls On the Run to make its way through Kalamazoo Thursday

WWMT

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Lacing up their running shoes and hitting the pavement in Kalamazoo.

Thousands of girls, their coaches and community runners will be hitting the streets of Kalamazoo for the Girls On the Run 5K Thursday.

Kalamazoo’s Girls On the Run program is the fifth largest in the country.

More than 1,600 girls will be at Waldo Stadium for the event. About 1,200 community runners will join them for the 5K, which winds through the streets of Kalamazoo.

Girls in third through eighth grades from 60 different schools in the Kalamazoo area take part in the after school running program that is about so much more than exercise.

"We focus on helping them learn important life skills like managing their emotions, having healthy relationships, sticking up for themselves and others and obviously incorporate a lot about leading a joyful, healthy, confident life. So, we sneak in the running. Sometimes they don't know they're doing it and before long they're ready for the 5K,” said Melisa Beeson, the executive director of Girls on the Run of Greater Kalamazoo.

Several Kalamazoo roads will be temporarily closed for the race. That includes Lovell, Cedar, South Burdick and Rose. They should all be back open by 8 p.m.

Girls on the Run 5K to bring nearly 4,000 runners, will impact downtown traffic

The race kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at Waldo Stadium on Stadium Drive and winds its way through Kalamazoo’s Vine Neighborhood.

The community is also invited to line the route to cheer on the runners.

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