Club 26.2: Midland Students Will Complete Marathon at Upcoming Race
Running can be fun. Just ask the kids running laps and laughing as they go at Midland’s Jefferson Middle School.
“I like getting to run during school,” explained Colin MacGregor.
“It is a fun way to be active and walk and run with friends,” said Lauren Gebo.
MacGregor and Gebo are both students in Linda Swanson’s 6th-grade class. She leads a team of students through the Be Greater Club 26.2 program. Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the initiative helps children ages five to 14 get active and develop lifelong healthy habits.
For about two months, students track and turn in their weekly mileage and get rewarded when they hit milestones. They’re also entered to win special prizes. The goal is to walk, jog or run 25.2 miles prior to the Greater Midland Dow RunWalk, taking place this year on Saturday, May 19. On race day, students will run one-mile to complete a cumulative marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
Swanson has been leading teams since 2011. She said her students celebrate race day by wearing the same color, donning temporary tattoos and gathering together before and after the main event. They play theme music to get pumped up before they put their training to the test.
“For some kids it’s the first time they’ve ever participated in a race and it’s really kind of neat to see their faces at the end,” she said.
“I am excited for the race so I can do my best when the day comes,” said student David Folkenroth.
While race day is exciting, getting kids to establish healthy exercise habits is the ultimate goal. Swanson said many students only have physical education class once or twice per week and the running club helps fill in the gaps for squirmy pre-teens.
“To give them an opportunity and an incentive to move more and to build it into the day is important,” Swanson said.
“I like that it gets more people to run and be active after school,” said student Madi Arthur
Students who’ve taken part in the running club sometimes realize they like going longer distances. Some have gone on to join the cross-country team and others have even pursued triathlons as a result of their positive experience at the race.
Are you taking part in any of the Greater Midland Dow RunWalk events? Make sure to check out the one-mile run and cheer on all the Be Greater Club 26.2 students who’ve worked hard to prepare for race day!
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Photos courtesy Linda Swanson