Students at École Steffie Woima Elementary School learned to incorporate physical activity into their day while training for the school’s kids marathon.
The marathon, organized largely by school council chair Jenn Bahler, was completed over a period of about six weeks. Participating students, after paying a registration fee of $5 ($15 for anyone else), were given a pedometer and a log sheet. The total distance of 26.2 miles (42 kilometres) was broken into quarter mile segments. It was then calculated how many steps this was, and participants recorded each time they had completed a quarter mile. By June 8, everyone participating was to have completed 25.2 miles. The final mile was completed together last Friday, bringing the total distance to 26.2 miles — the same distance as a marathon.
“All participating kids have technically done a marathon,” said Bahler.
Bahler got the idea while attending a school council conference. There she met people from Cardston, which has Canada’s largest kids marathon with about 2,000 participants. The search for sponsors, which helped lower the registration price for students and provided the funds for t-shirts and medals distributed during the final mile, began in January.
It was decided the marathon would not be a fundraiser. Organizers did not want to distract students from the goal of increasing daily activity with their families.
“Lots of people said we could make lots of money, but we didn’t want that to be our focus,” said Bahler.
Grade 5 student Stephanie Vetter said the marathon was fun. While training, she walked 600 metres every night with her mother, which translated to about 15 minutes. She said she will continue her walking habit.
“Me and my mom would go around the block each night and I liked that we had some bonding time,” said Vetter. She also liked the opportunity to meet students from other classes while walking the final mile.
“You’re all kind of walking in a clunk,” she said.
Vetter’s family chose to sponsor the marathon. Her mother, Cathy, said the marathon was a noble cause to support.
“It was such an amazing thing for the entire school. All the kids got to come together, there was an incredible spirit of sport,” she said. “It shows the kids how good you can feel when you’re active.”
Jenn Bahler has four children, two of whom attend Steffie Woima and participated in the marathon. She said that, while training, they asked to be dropped off farther from the house so they could walk the distance.
The marathon will take place again next year.