By Rose SgarlatoSPARTA — Seven years in the running, literally, Girls on the Run will host its annual 5K Saturday, May 12 at 8 AM in Lake Mohawk. Open to all, this public event is expecting around 1,000 runners — 450 Girls on the Run participants and their running buddies. Girls on the Run is an after school program that combines curriculum with sport aimed at building self esteem and confidence in young girls between 3rd and 8th grade. Throughout the 10-week season, the girls discuss topics such as body image, popularity, gossiping, choosing friends, conflict resolution and much more. There are 17 teams in Sussex County and a total of 36 teams total in Northern NJ, and many of these teams will be represented in the race. Maureen Dykstra Council Director for Girls on the Run NJ North talks about the benefits:“The girls will develop their character, competence and feel confident in who they are, creating positive connections with peers and adults while making a meaningful contribution to their community. The curriculum is also combined with the sport of running. The running activities are used as a medium for teaching life skills and promoting healthy outcomes, while coming together as a team to support one another. “The conclusion of the program culminates with a celebratory 5K on Saturday, May 12. The 3.1 mile run starts in White Deer Plaza in Lake Mohawk and ends there, taking the runners along East Shore Trail.The girls are proud of their accomplishments and weighed in on what they have learned from Girls on the Run: “Girls on the Run taught me that I can make things better in my life," said Giuliana Koch of Sparta, age 10. "I learned that if there is a bad situation there are things I can do to make it right,” Ellie Fagersten also of Sparta, age 11, said: “I think doing Girls on the Run in 5th grade is a great age. When you go to Middle School there are a lot of situations that you need to deal with. Girls on the Run gave me the confidence to know how to handle it and what to do.”The organization is looking forward to a successful and enjoyable 5K. "Our 5K is unique because it is a celebration of our girls and their achievement," Dykstra said. "It isn’t about how long it takes to cross the finish line, it’s about where it propels our girls after they cross the finish line. They are stronger, more confident and filled with a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It is truly a remarkable experience for our girls and their families.” To register for the race, visit www.runsignup.com or www.gotrnjn.org. Online registration ends May 9. You can register the day of the race between 6:45-7:45 am at Sparta Elks Club on the Boardwalk. For more information on the race or to volunteer, email email@example.com.GOTRNJN is grateful to its sponsors and partners including Platinum Level: Newton-Sparta Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Lateiner, The Decker Family, Thor Labs, Sparwick Contracting and Riverview Paving; Gold Level: Biondo Investment Group, Sparta Municipal Alliance, Atlantic Health Newton Medical Center, Julie Killen-Coldwell Banker, Wellness Center Pediatrics, Advocare Vernon Pediatrics, Dykstra Associates and ALFA Development; Silver Level: Gordon and Teresa Gaudet, Valley ER Associates, Duphiney Financial Network, C&H Agency, Jordano Electric; Bronze Level: The Grace Financial Group- Marion G. Cuff, Junior Women's Club of Sparta, Laura DeLea, Frank A. Macchione Construction, Colleen Hardcastle, Junior Women's Club of Ramsey and Lakeland Bank. Thank you also to GOTR partners Sparta Elks Club and Lake Mohawk Country Club.