How Girls on the Run Began

Girls on the Run was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina with the help of thirteen brave girls. Twenty-six girls came the next season, then seventy-five. In 2000, Girls on the Run International, a 501(c)3 organization, was born.

What started with one school has grown to 225 councils in 49 states and the District of Columbia. With the help of over 98,000 volunteers, Girls on the Run served over 179,000 girls in 2015, including its millionth girl! In the same year, Girls on the Run hosted more than 350 end-of-season 5k events across the United States, making the Girls on the Run 5k series the largest in the country, and launched a new middle school program, Heart & Sole, which is dedicated to the unique needs of adolescent girls.

Girls on the Run has been featured by national media outlets including People, Runner’s World, Redbook, Women’s Day, O Magazine, Women's Running, SELF Magazine, Glamour, Shape, Marie Claire, Parenting, Running Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, NPR, ESPN and FOX Sports.

National Partners for Girls on the Run International include Athleta, Cigna, FOX Sport Supports, Gamma Phi Beta and SmartWool.

The true success of the program, however, is not told in the numbers, but rather in the words of the girls who participate. “Girls on the Run made me realize that I am the boss of my brain.” “I know that whatever I set my mind to do, I can do.”  “At Girls on the Run I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin!” 

That is success.

Historical Timeline of Girls on the Run

  • 1996

    Molly Barker starts the Girls on the Run program with 13 girls in Charlotte, NC.

  • 1997

    Molly Barker meets Dori Luke and together, they expand programming in Charlotte and other communities.

  • 1998

    Girls on the Run receives national attention in Runner's World magazine.
    175 girls served.

  • 1999

    Dori Luke writes Girls on Track curriculum.

  • 2000

    Girls on the Run becomes a 501c3 nonprofit organization. 1,330 girls served. Girls on the Run operating in 12 states.

  • 2002

    10,345 girls served.

  • 2003

    Girls on the Run launches its first Canadian council.
    11,831 girls served.

  • 2004

    14,553 girls served.

  • 2006

    10th year anniversary.
    100th council established.
    23,415 girls served.

  • 2008

    Girls on the Run 5k Series is launched.
    52,056 girls served.

  • 2009

    Girls on the Run SoleMates program is launched.
    62,665 girls served.
    5k series surpasses 100,000 participants.

  • 2010

    72,735 girls served.

  • 2012

    200th council established.
    Girls on the Run serves girls in 47 states and Canada.

  • 2013

    Wondergirl Award introduced.
    Coach Portal launched.
    713,855 girls served since inception.

  • 2014

    Launch of Girls on the Run Curriculum v3.