Tue, 14 July 2009 - 10:37 p.m. MT
Credit: Dave Watt - American Running Association
Overnight and early morning rains did not deter spirited milers in Suffield Connecticut. The H1N1 (formerly swine flu) virus delayed RUN A MILE DAY in Flower Mound Texas. May was a soggy month in many parts of the east coast. Schools in Texas were closed for upwards of two weeks. Despite obstacles the American Running Association (ARA) and their participating schools and groups in over 20 states gathered on May 7-9. Parents, teacher and kids gathered on local tracks or makeshift 400m loops and aced up their running shoes and took to the track to RUN THE MILE.
Mile Run events this year expanded to weekdays besides the Saturday May 9 events. ARA discovered that a Saturday event would leave out many potential participants in certain communities. PE teachers and school administrators were receptive but needed to hold the MILE RUNS during school hours. Some groups preferred to run on Saturday the 9th. In all instances, the RUN THE MILE events fit the overall concept: Running the mile can be fun. It is an important element of ones’ overall health, fitness and well-being.
The Middle School in Grove City Pennsylvania and the Holy Trinity School in Beaverton Oregon were two schools who participated school-wide through all PE classes. Close to 400 students participated in the RUN THE MILE races at each site.
Holy Trinity’s runners came from the 1st through 7th grade. PE teachers brought out their classes and event organizers gathered the boys and girls on the school’s track.
Instructions were simple: Don’t sprint out from the start and share your lanes. Smiles abounded as the “ready, set, GO” was given by event organizer Mike Bergman. Nike Running’s John Truax came along to assist in the Mile races. Truax and Bergman instilled a bit of the Nike can-do spirit in the young milers. Four hundred young boys and girls ran 4 laps+ to earn their mile run.
At Grove City Middle School, AMAA Board Member Mark Courtney agreed to contact the principal and head PE teacher about a RUN THE MILE DAY event involving all the students. Mark’s idea was directly out of his guidebook for his race timing business, Runners’ High. Once Mark explained his proposed operations plan, the school jumped on it and agreed to host the event for all students via the PE classes on Thursday the 7th. During the regularly scheduled PE classes, students were given the opportunity to walk, jog and or run four laps of the neighboring high school track.
ChampionChip™ timing was used to count and record laps for each student participant. Each student attached the timing chip to a shoe. As they crossed the timing system mat at the start-finish line, times were automatically recorded. Music blared from speakers to urge or stir on the runners. The atmosphere was simply, “just have run while running”. Over 350 students participated.
Two other notable towns made their own RUN THE MILE history. In Fullerton California at the Commonwealth School, boys and girls got out during school hours and ran the mile on an improvised track on the schools’ grass fields. The PE teacher and students did not let the lack of a formal 400m track deter their effort to run the mile. Flandreau School South Dakota was not your typical RUN THE MILE site. The Flandreau School is a federally funded high school for Native American Indian youth who board at the school’s campus. Each of the 300 - 325 high school students gathered on Saturday May 9 to walk, jog or run the Mile. The teachers created a loop course in front of the school. Incentives were laid out: complete the mile and you earned a t-shirt. They also set a goal for 300 miles to be completed. You also got recognition among your high school friends.
American Running was thrilled to see so many diverse youth groups commit to RUN A MILE DAY. This year, we expanded NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAY to schools and community groups over a short period in early May. Some concepts worked better than others. One goal was realized at all RUN THE MILE sites: show our kids that running can be fun and lead to a healthy fit life.
Several boys and girls at participating schools responded when we asked boys and girls in groups or schools what running the mile meant to them. Was it fun? Do you feel healthier? Here are two responses that sum up the achievement of RUN A MILE DAY:
“Running the mile was really fun. I just tried my best and hoped to beat some of the boys. I was tired near the end but I just kept running…”
----11 year old in Kensington MD
“I ran the mile because I just wanted to do something. I tried to beat everybody but instead I came in last. Well at least I tried, right? The real reason I ran was because I need to get fit for the summer. Other than that I ran for fun…nothing other than fun running with friends and laughing…”
---Merissa, Flandreau Indian School, South Dakota
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