Friday, May 4, 2007

Kids and 5K's - More and More Children are Lacing up Running Shoes

About two weeks ago, I ran my first 5K race in nine years. My husband and dad woke up at 5:30 AM and braved the cold and rain to watch me run 3.1 miles.

At the start line, I was pretty amazed to see people of all ages, sizes, and in all different types of running gear waiting for the gun. Now, when I say ages, I mean all ages; a huge number of young children were running the race as well. There were parents, PTA members, and teachers of area middle schools holding up signs to show children their start group. Not only was the Spirit of St. Louis 5K an adult race on this cold and chilly morning, it was also the "Read, Write, and Run Marathon" for St. Louis area schools. Kids all over St. Louis had also been training for their race debut.

But once the gun went off, we were all runners. Once I reached the first mile marker, I noticed more and more middle school age children were passing me. My stubborn twenty-something mind thought "I have to beat these kids!" But I soon learned their victory was short lived. While the young kids passed me at first, I would see them a couple yards a head huffing and puffing because they had just sprinted for almost a half mile.

As the last mile approached, you could see the kids were all learning how to run a race, pace themselves, and how to work as a team. I saw several packs of middle schoolers running together and encouraging each other. It was touching to see thirteen and fourteen year olds working hard as a team to do their best.

At the finish line, I spotted my husband and dad. They were shivering and yelling at me to put a coat on. But after a half hour of running in the wind, cold, and rain you just can't feel it once you stop. Not to mention the endorphins of the race kicked in, I thought everyone did amazing and kept telling other runners at the finish line "WAY TO PACE, MAN!" and "You looked AWESOME out there!"

I also saw kids and their parents at the finish line. Some parents were even brought to tears seeing their children win medals and reach their goals. Most of the kids snapped pictures of each other holding their medals. I saw a few great family portraits taken at the finish line.

All in all racing is an incredible experience and I will be running my second 5K September of this year. I hope to see more and more young children participating, it's inspiring to see runners of all ages cross the finish line.


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