FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) – About 225 parents and students from Hoosier Road Elementary School in Fishers will run in this year’s St. Vincent Geist 5K. The 5K takes place at 7 a.m. on May 17, the same day as the St. Vincent Geist Half Marathon.
The 120 3rd and 4th graders began training before school on March 18. They will participate in weekly group runs every Tuesday morning to prepare for the May race.
“It’s a lot of fun, I like to run,” says Riley Watkins, 3rd grader at Hoosier Road Elementary School. “It’s fun to get to do it outside and of course around your school, that’s pretty cool!”
Three laps along the sidewalks surrounding the elementary school is equivalent to one mile. The students must run as many laps as they can in the allotted time.
“It’s just about incorporating exercise and really motivating the kids by telling them exercise is different for everybody and you don’t really have to be a runner–you can walk or jog,” says P.E. Teacher and program organizer Shannyn Miller.
Miller and her growing group of 3rd and 4th graders first participated in the Geist Half Marathon’s “Healthy Kids Program” in 2008–the first year of the race. The race now offers a Health and Wellness Grant for school groups.
“When the Geist 5K first started, they had a healthy kids program, we had 150 kids and parents that first year and it was very exciting,” says Miller. “By 2013, we had a group of 237 parents and kids.”
The Geist Half Marathon Inc. is a non-profit corporation organized to inspire health and wellness in the children surrounding Geist Reservoir. The race raises funds to benefit physical fitness programs being jointly implemented within the schools. The organization has donated $296,767 to Geist area schools in the last six years, according to its website.
This year, Miller added an incentive to encourage more students to sign up for the race: whichever 3rd or 4th grade class had the highest participation rate gets a special lunch.
“This year one of my 4th grade classes had 75 percent of their students register, so we will be buying them Subway for lunch next week,” says Miller. “I just want them to enjoy it and make it fun, because if you don’t make exercise fun, then you’re not going to establish those kinds of lifestyles.”
It seems the plan is working. Kendall Butler, a 4th grader returning to run for a second year has a positive view of the training and the outcome.
“I’m with my friends. I get to hang out with them. We can talk–we’re running together so you don’t just get bored.”