Kids Run RVA run clubs are ready for Whole Foods Market Marathon Jr.
By: Alexis Davis
On Saturday, October 28, kids from all over the Richmond region will participate in the Whole Foods Market Marathon Jr. This annual youth running event is part of the Nov. 11 Anthem Richmond Marathon, held two weeks earlier in Byrd Park. Kids Run RVA, a program of Sports Backers that serves as the official event charity for the Anthem Richmond Marathon, promotes physical activity to youth across the Richmond region and encourages more kids to get moving more often. Kids Run RVA supports over 70 run clubs in schools and neighborhoods throughout the Richmond area. These clubs, led by teachers and volunteer coaches, get kids active, instill a lifelong love of physical activity, and teach healthy habits that will benefit youth into adulthood. They’re also preparing kids for the Whole Foods Market Marathon Jr., and for many, it will be their first experience taking part in a race.
“My kids at Crenshaw love, love, love Run Club!” said Robyn Will, a P.E. teacher and run club coach at Thelma Crenshaw Elementary School in Chesterfield County. “Each year we have more and more students sign up. This year we have over 100 students in our club. They have been working so hard to work up to this race!”
Celebration of Active Living
The Whole Foods Market Marathon Jr. offers a fun-filled celebration of active living. The event, for kids ages 4-12, offers 0.5-mile and 1-mile distance options as well as a race festival with a costume contest, music, games, magic show, and mascots from local organizations. In addition to supporting run clubs, Kids Run RVA also provides complimentary entries for participants in Title 1 schools and underserved communities, pays for school bus transportation for schools that choose to ride together, and in some cases even provides new shoes for kids in need of proper athletic footwear. It’s all part of a mission to create daily fitness opportunities and allow kids to achieve the goals they set when they started their run club programs.
Kristen Callan, a wellness integration specialist for Chesterfield County Public Schools, leads a new run club at Harrowgate Elementary with nearly 50 runners preparing for their first Whole Foods Market Marathon Jr. The club meets twice a week and Callan incorporates different fitness activities that include running. While this helps prepare them for race day, Callan also wants to build enthusiasm for active living in a fun environment. “We have been training hard for the past month so we are counting down the days until we can get out there and showcase all of our hard work,” said Callan. “We hope that this experience helps students recognize the importance of fitness and the positive impact it has on their lives.” Her race-day advice reflects that thinking. “Our biggest message to the kids about race day is to go out there and have fun,” said Callan. “The training is the hard part. These kids have been getting up early and working hard two days a week for the last month. All the hard work is done and Saturday is all about going out there to celebrate.”
Robyn Will echoes that sentiment with her run club at Crenshaw. “I told the students to just go out there on Saturday and try your best! If you can run the whole time, great! If you need to walk a little, that’s great too!,” said Will, before adding the unofficial mantra of everyone involved with the Whole Foods Market Marathon Jr. “All I care about is that they have fun!”
For more information and registration for the Whole Foods Market Marathon Jr., visit www.sportsbackers.org. The race festival takes place from 10:00am-2:00pm, with the 0.5-mile distance starting at 12:00pm and the 1-mile distance starting at 12:15pm.