Sunday, August 29, 2010

Report - WELS Kids Marathon

Saturday morning was the WELS Kids Marathon. What is that? I know a lot of you already know this but for those of you who don't, here goes. I am the race director of a race for kids in the Milwaukee area. Kids from all over Milwaukee and surrounding areas sign up to run 26.2 miles over the summer while also reading 26 books or reading for 26 hours over the summer. Kids can log miles in 1/4 mile increments and also reading in 1/4 hour increments. Then on Sautrday, August 28th, the kids all come together and run their final mile or their marathon. We had shirts, music, food, prizes and of course, finishers medals for all. I tried to emulate all the things that I love to see at marathons I have gone to. From what I can tell, it was a great success.

I arrived at 7:00AM to start setting up with my other committee members and well as a few awesome volunteers. The weather was great, sunny and warm. By 9:00AM, we started the music and there were a lot of people already there. I was still running around setting up small things and answering questions but everything was going really smooth.

We had 2 charities we donated to from the kids of the marathon. One of the charities was for a local woman who is running across the entire United States raising money for MS. Her mother has MS and she was inspired to try to help raise awareness and money to help find a cure. So we set up a table with a large sheet of paper and let the kids sign it for her. She doesn't know it is coming so the surprise should be cool. Her run is called "MS Run The US". Look it up if you want more info or if you feel inclined to donate.

We had a new announcer this year and he was really cool and funny. Not only did he announce all our information in a clear way, he also ad libbed with a lot of fun. I will tell more soon.

Finally at 10:00AM, after a few words from the College Track Coach welcoming everyone (I do not talk on PA Systems, not my thing I guess), and after the National Anthem, we lined up the kids grades K through 4 for the first of 2 races. Bango the Buck (the Milwaukee Bucks Mascot) lined up with the kids as well, and off they all went for 1 last mile. I took a few pictures of the start and then sprinted across the football field to take a few more when I noticed a table and a football water trailer right in the middle of the track. Aaarrrggghhh. I quickly moved the table and then dragged the trailer off the track and luckily no kids got hurt. Note to self: Next year, assign someone to check entire race course right before the race to make sure it is clear.

I then walked to the finish line to wait for the kids. I like to stay right at the finish line and give high 5's to all the kids as they finish. I stole this idea from Don Kern, the race director of the Grand Rapids Marathon who does this at his marathon, except he shakes your hand or gives you a hug. The kids have no interest in this but do like the high 5! The first 2 kids to finish the first race came in together, they were friends. One of the kids must have given it all because he was puking as he crossed the line. He was OK and happy soon after. My kids finished as well and received their medals which they have proudly hung by their mirror in their room or their bed posts.

As kids were still finishing, the announcer started his funny antics. He was doing spontaneous interviews wit the finishers, really funny! Then I looked up and saw some geese starting to fly toward us in a "V" formation. Right on cue, the announcer said something like "We are sorry for the delay everyone but if you look to the North, you will see our planned ceremonial flyover".

The second race (Kids grades 5 through 8) started at about 10:25 and they had as much fun as the the younger kids, a bit more competitive though. The kids then enjoyed bananas, apples, cookies, and granola bars. We also had spring water to drink.

The all the kids sat down and we gave away lots of prizes including:

Ticket for a Milwaukee Bucks Game and Milwaukee Admiral Game (Minor league hockey)
Many gift certificates for local running and cycling stores
Gift Cards to Barnes & Noble
Milwaukee Brewer Bobble head Doll
Entries to a local Kids Triathlon
Lots more tshirt and sweatshirts.

We also had an event called the Ultimate Challenge where 17 kids did double the miles and reading. These kids received a "Gotta Run" sticker and a shirt from a marathon in Wisconsin. A few weeks ago, I emailed most of the marathons in Wisconsin (there are a lot of them) and asked if they would like to donate some shirts for us to give away and quite a few did including the Icebreaker Marathon, LaCrosse Marathon, the Wisconsin Marathon, WhistleStop Marathon, Paavo Nurmi Marathon, and the Fox Cities Marathon (I have run 3 of those so far).

All in all, it was really cool seeing all the kids achieving their goal of finishing their marathon. I am so proud of each of them. The announcer did say for everyone to come back for the 3rd annual WELS Kids Marathon next year so I guess I have to do it again. I couldn't have done it with out my great committee and awesome volunteers and sponsors though. If you have ever put on a race, you understand all the work involved, hundreds of hours, but it was all worth it on Saturday.

Now, after quite a few Thank You notes to send out, it will be time for a break and time for more training. Next marathon should be in October.
Bango lines up and is ready to start running with all the kids.
The kids (K-4) are off on their final mile of the Kids Marathon.
My daughter, Melissa, finishes her marathon. There are perks to knowing the race director, like getting #1.
My youngest, Katelynn, ran pretty hard for a 4 year old and was pretty hot but she finished and received her medal.


Mark said...

That is awesome, Bill!! So cool to see your vision come together, having a big influence in these kids lives!! Bless you!!!

Melanie said...

How fun! So glad it went well!

Beth said...

Congratulations on your big event! Wonderful that you worked so hard to influence our youth in such an amazing way. I'm so happy for you that it went well.