On a sunny Memorial Day morning, people from age 2 to 72 gathered to run in the ninth annual Boone Hospital Center Wellaware 5K run/walk and the new youth running program, the Kids on Track summer marathon.
“This is the first year for (the Kids on Track program), and we’re hoping for 300 kids to participate over the summer,” said Dana Fedenia, a supervisor at Wellaware.
The program for children 14 and younger calls for them to log miles they run throughout the summer. Prizes are awarded after each five-mile mark, and medals will be given out in August for those who complete the 26.2 miles of a marathon.
“The kids will run their first mile today, and then run their last 1.2 miles together on August 28,” Fedenia said. “For the rest of the summer, we encourage them to run with their parents or with the Columbia Youth Track Club.”
Steve and Deb Harrington brought their three children to participate. Deb ran in the 5K with 11-year-old Grady, while 10-year-old Kelsey and 7-year-old Lucas waited for their race to begin.
“With my wife and I always out running, the kids really just started picking it up,” Steve Harrington said.
About 100 kids and a handful of parents crowded around the starting line, with seasoned runners like Grady and his 11-year-old friend Charlie Carson standing next to toddlers bursting with energy. As the group took off, their parents cut across to the finish line. However, there was a mix-up on the race path, and the kids missed half of the course.
“I think this is a world record,” Steve Harrington said with a laugh as Lucas crossed the finish line in just under 4 minutes. “Whoever heard of a 4-minute mile out of a bunch of children?”
Despite the mix-up, each participant received a ribbon as they crossed the finish line. The rest of their summer miles, however, have to be legitimate. The excitement over the prizes, including a free scoop of ice cream from Sparky’s Ice Cream and a free cookie from Cookies by Design, already had the kids excited to start logging their marathon miles.
Race director Mark Volek, said proceeds from the 5K race are going to the Columbia Track Club Youth Program. Wellaware also made a donation to the organization. The track club meets at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays at Hickman High School’s track.
Kids on Track is open to kids 14 and younger. They may sign up until June 18.