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.US Championships get girls running in community program

INDIANAPOLIS — When Mt. Vernon Woods Elementary School counselor Mary Elizabeth Lotierzo spoke to USA Track & Field officials in September, she knew that the best thing for the girls in her 4th, 5th and 6th grade running club would be to enter the Nationwide Insurance 5K, held in conjunction with the .US National Road Racing Championships this Sunday in Alexandria, Va.
Photos courtesy Mt Vernon Woods Elementary

Run with .US
A “fun” 5km to be contested on the streets of Alexandria, the race presented an opportunity for kids to get starting with running. USATF and .US donated entries to more than 30 students at Mt. Vernon Woods Elementary School who are part of the school’s “Lady Panthers” running group. The students will run Sunday’s race along with “buddy runners” – teachers from the school. Collectively, the runners are embracing a chance to “Run with .US” at USATF’s inaugural, overall national championship road race.

“The girls and buddy runners are so excited!” said Lotierzo. “I’m so grateful for such a generous gift to our athletes.  The girls were able to set a goal of running a 5K and now they’ll be able to do it.”

Tips from the top
Before and after the race Sunday, the young runners will receive tips and encouragement from 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor, all while preparing to run for what many will be their first-time competing 5K (3.1 mile) race.

“Running is such a confidence builder,” said Deena Kastor, 2004 Olympic silver medalist and USATF board member.  “We are so excited to have the girls in the race and look forward to seeing them in Alexandria.”

Building futures
The Lady Panthers train after school five days per week. In its third year, the group focuses on building self-esteem and self-confidence in girls. Mt. Vernon Woods Elementary is a school of over 700 students, nearly 85 percent receive reduced or no cost lunch.

“Our main goal is for the girls to come together and work as a team,” Lotierzo said. “We do several team building activities to build a community. We also pick captains, who facilitate stretching (in warm-ups). These captains show the most positivity, perseverance, and pride.” 

One of the group’s team-building activities was a fundraiser to help raise funds to pay for a bus for the commute to the race, which starts at 7 a.m., Sunday at Oronoco Bay Park.

For more information
For more information on the Nationwide Insurance 5K and the .US National Road Racing Championships, please click here.

About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the country’s #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States. For more information on USATF, visit

About .US
.US is the country code domain name for the United States of America. .US is managed and operated by Neustar, Inc. (NYSE:NSR), an information services company, on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce. Neustar operates the .US global registry in the public interest and provides critical infrastructure services. Visit for more information on .US, and visit for more information on Neustar.

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