On Saturday at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction, elementary and middle school girls from around the region gathered to celebrate the culmination of the Girls on the Run program.

The GOTR program, which Vermont has officially been part of since 1999, spends ten weeks preparing these young athletes for the final run. The atmosphere of support and camaraderie is designed to instill confidence and create lifelong healthy habits.

Adorned in face paint, colored hair, capes bows and decorations of all kinds, participants, coaches, parents and role models from dozens of schools danced in the midway to music before running a celebratory 5k.

Photos by Ben Chiappinelli, Colchester Sun.