Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Little Athletes in Training for 1-Mile Fun Run

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Little Athletes in Training for 1-Mile Fun Run

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

Running is a big deal at St. Mark's Episcopal Day School.

Students are spending their recess hoofing it around the track. They're wearing chain necklaces strung with tiny, brightly colored feet.

And they expect to earn medals for completing the Ortega River Run's 1-mile fun run from the school to the Ortega Bridge at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28.

"Six laps on the school track represents one mile," said Sharon Pentaleri, children's running coordinator at St. Mark's, which is on Oxford Avenue off Ortega Boulevard. "Most do it like it's nothing, so they all feel confident that they will get that medal."

In December, Pentaleri, a member of the Florida Striders Track Club, formed a running club at the private school. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, about 150 children in kindergarten through fourth grade -- grades that have recess -- spend that time running.

"With obesity being in the news, it's a great way to get children moving," she said. "We teach them that it's simple, fun, inexpensive and something they can do for a lifetime."

Moreover, she said, the River Run benefits St. Mark's, and the club is a way to prepare them for that event, which also includes a five-mile race beginning at 8:30 a.m. and diaper dashes at 9:30 a.m. The children will train through Thursday.

Pentaleri expects that most will enter the fun run, saying they're "all very excited."

She said the Florida Striders, who put on four races a year, have been working with Clay County public schools for 18 years and want to expand their program to Duval. Two of the races offer prize money that schools can use for running and fitness programs.

Since St. Mark's club was organized, students have logged 1,625 miles. Some go at a fast pace, while others walk.

Students in lower grades were given goals and their progress was charted, Pentaleri said. …

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