900 brave the cold for kids marathon
Published: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 7:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 7:59 p.m.
The 50-degree weather at 9 a.m. didn't stop 900 children from running in the Five Points of Life Kids Marathon today. Bundled in multiple layers, the children in grades K-8 put on clothes such as a magenta ballerina tutu, orange zebra-stripped socks and a hat with a flamingo on top to keep warm.
The kids tripped and stumbled over one another when they began, stampeding the parents who jumped has positioned themselves to take photos. After six minutes, the first boys arrived at the finish line with pink cheeks and tongues out, cheering as they crossed.
Much later, the kindergartners rushed by on their tiny legs, gasping and gulping, more hopping than running as they finished.
For 8-year-old Ani Veltcheva, the Kids Marathon was child's play next to the 5K she had just finished an hour before in 20 minutes and 48 seconds. The almost 4-foot-tall third-grader won first place in the overall women's category.
Ani has logged more than 400 miles at Talbot Elementary since August 2012. But even though she just won a marathon, she's most excited about going to Gatorland (in Orlando) with her mom and running that next mile on Monday at school.
The Kids Marathon, presented by Studio32 Orthodontics, was one part of the Five Points of Life Marathon going on today and Sunday near the Southwest Rec Center at the University of Florida to raise awareness about the five ways to share life through donations: blood, apheresis, umbilical cord blood, marrow, and organs and tissue. The other Five Points of Life events included the 5Points 5K, a fitness expo, Sunday's marathon, a half marathon and a marathon relay.
Children who ran had logged 25 miles before the event and ran their final 1.2 miles today to complete a full marathon.
Millhopper Montessori School physical education teacher Cam Parker brought 102 kids from his class to run. The school won a $500 check for the school with the most participants based on enrollment, which it will use to buy Speed Cups, Frisbees, tennis balls and footballs, Parker said.
“In the past, I really had to hype up this event to get kids to come out and participate, but this year they were just really excited and wanted to come out because it's for a great cause,” Parker said.
Every year, Parker tries to win the check for the largest number of participants overall. Last year, the kids made him get a blue mohawk for a week when they lost. This year, he gets a pink beard.
The kids from Talbot Elementary and their gym teacher Margarita Schwiebert won the $1,000 check for the greatest number of participants overall by a close margin, with 103 student runners. Many of her students also participated in the earlier 5K run.
Schwiebert attributes her students' achievements to the Morning Mile, a program that starts every school day at 7 a.m. Children run a mile or more every morning while Schwiebert plays music for them.
“Every day, I get about 150 kids out there, running voluntarily,” she said. “It gets them focused for learning, and I've seen firsthand some amazing behavior transformations.”
“The children get so upset when they have to go to middle school because there is no program like that there,” she said. “They say, ‘My gosh, no more morning mile. What am I going to do now?' ”
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