• 52°

Going the extra miles: Danville elementary students running a marathon’s distance in smaller steps

Photo submitted Students run with the Junior Ads Running Club.

Photo submitted
Students run with the Junior Ads Running Club.

Elementary students at Danville schools have the opportunity to run 26.2 miles — a marathon’s worth of distance — between now and the end of October, thanks to the Junior Ads Running Club.

Danville mom Andrea Webster helped get the club off the ground after reading about a similar club in Louisville.

“I read an article last year about a lady who started a club in Louisville,” Webster said.

Students are running shorter distances regularly and working toward a total distance of 26.2 miles.

When the Louisville group was ready to run its last mile, Webster said, they got to run the Kentucky Derby mile. Inspired by the story, she thought it would be good to do that with students from Danville. So she created the Junior Ads Running Club. Money from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant is being used to help transport the students for their runs.

Webster said she called another running club, which was able to provide running logs, T-shirts and water bottles. While Webster knew that they couldn’t purchase all of that for the Danville students using the PEP money, she created running logs for the children, and covered the costs for student shirts and water bottles. Working with Kathy Belcher at the Danville Schools, they organized the Junior Ads Running Club.

Photo submitted Elise Arnold from Jennie Roger runs as part of the Junior Ads Running Club.

Photo submitted
Elise Arnold from Jennie Roger runs as part of the Junior Ads Running Club.

Eric Moore, the P.E. teacher at Jennie Rogers and Toliver elementary schools, and Jennie Goggin at Toliver Elementary School are helping with the club as well. Students from those schools travel to the Danville track on Mondays and Wednesdays after school to run one to two miles each day. Students from Hogsett Elementary run on opposite days at their school, as the schedules wouldn’t allow for them to join the other two elementary schools.

Webster said the idea really resonated with her because she ran as a child.

“Running as a kid makes running as an adult easier,” she said.

Running, Webster said, is a lifelong sport; it is one that allows students to set goals and be self-motivated.

“They’ve had an amazing time,” Moore said.

With more than 100 students from his schools participating, Moore said one might expect the “novelty to wear off,” or that some might simply not like it.

“That hasn’t been the case. The kids have taken to it and it’s been a good time for everyone involved,” he said.

Abel Goodwin and his sister June are participating.

Photo submitted Preslee Reyna, a student from Toliver, runs as part of the Junior Ads Running Club.

Photo submitted
Preslee Reyna, a student from Toliver, runs as part of the Junior Ads Running Club.

“I love running,” Abel said. A fourth grader at Jennie Rogers Elementary School, he joined the club because he likes to run and some of his friends were joining. “I was kind of excited and nervous, too.”

So far, he’s run between 7 and 8 miles.

Moore said he is thankful to Webster for getting the club going.

“I go and Ms. Goggin goes, but in terms of whose brain child this whole thing was — it’s Mrs. Webster,” Moore said.

On Monday, Webster sweetened the deal for students — every lap completed was worth a quarter donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a foundation to raise money to fight childhood cancer.

In total, students ran 492 laps, raising $123 for the charity. Abel said he ran 10 laps, which equates to about two and half miles.

The group’s final laps will be 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at Danville Admiral Stadium. Parent-teacher organizations in the district will be sponsoring a big event for the kids, celebrating as they hit the 26.2-mile goal.

Abel said he hopes the club continues next year and that others should join.

“It’s really fun,” he said.

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.