Monday, September 5, 2011

Report - WELS Kids Marathon

A week ago Saturday was the Final Mile of the WELS Kids Marathon, a program that I began in the Milwaukee area. If you recall, kids (grades K to 8) who join the WELS Kids Marathon run 26.2 miles over the summer while also reading for 26 hours or 26 books. All the kids have been running and reading since the end of the school year and have worked hard to finish their marathon. This year, we had over 430 kids participate including some from up to 2 hours outside Milwaukee.

Earlier that morning, I had run the Eisenbahn Marathon and after laying down for about an hour, I was up loading the van with all the supplies I needed to bring. By 4:15, I was a Wisconsin Lutheran College's Raabe Stadium where we were having the final mile. The committee and volunteers began to set up the registration area and the post race food area.

Suddenly I realized I had made a huge mistake, I had forgotten to bring the master list of participants which was in alphabetical order, something that would have made the packet pick up about 1000 times easier than it ended up being. By 5:30, kids and parents were showing up and the volunteers of the registration table were struggling without my list. AARRGGHH!!!! The line got considerably long and I am sure some in the line were frustrated. I apologized to as many of them as I could until we came up with a plan to move the line faster. The plan worked and we were able to get everyone through the line in time for the first of 2 final mile races. This was the only major hiccup of the evening.

Before the races, we had a guest warm up leader. A lot of the kids gathered on the track and Tracy lead them through all sorts of exercises to be ready to run the mile.

Tracy Falkner, in the blue shirt on the ground facing the kids, lead a warm up for the kids.

After the warm up, we were able to introduce our 2 special guest for the evening. The first guest was Jenny Crain. Jenny is a local runner who had qualified for 4 different Olympic Trials in the Marathon and on the track in the 10K and 5K. 4 years ago, she was on a run in Milwaukee when she was hit by a car and barely survived. The Make It Happen Fund was set up to help Jenny pay for help huge medical bills. The Make It Happen Fund is the charity the WELS Kids Marathon chose to make a donation to. Jenny was our official starter of the race and gave lots of the kids high-fives along the way. She seemed to really enjoy watching the kids run and we made her an honorary WELS Kids Marathon Finisher complete with Finisher's Medal.

Jenny Crain, honorary WELS Kids Marathon Finisher along with myself and my youngest daughter Katelynn

The other special guest was Trevor Marsicano. Trevor is a current speedskater living in the area and training at the Pettit Center. Trevor in a World Champion speedskater and former World Record holder in the 1000 Meter Long Track event. Trevor also won a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and brought along his medal to show everyone. Trevor is a really nice guy and after giving the kids an inspirational talk before the race, also handed out finisher medals to the kids as the finished.

Trevor Marsicano handed out finisher medals to the kids. I think he held on to his Olympic Silver Medal.

2010 Vancouver Olympics Silver Medal. It was really heavy!

The music was playing and the kids and parents were having fun as the first race took off. I was running all over the place getting things done and giving high fives at the finish line that I didn't even get to see some of my friends who's kids were in the race. Our announcer did a great job once again even interviewing some of the kids after their races.

The younger kids ran in the first race. They took off in almost a complete sprint. Pace yourselves!

After the races, the kids were given Chocolate and white milk to drink along with spring water. Bananas and cookies were also their to refuel the kids.

A little later, we had awards and door prizes for the kids. By this time, it was getting pretty dark out and the lights of the stadium were on which made it really cool for the kids. They all sat on the football field hoping their name would be called for prizes ranging from Water Bottles or books to large gift certificates for local stores and even Milwaukee Bucks tickets. Some of the kids received a special award for completing our "Ultimate Challenge", these kids did double the work, 52.4 miles and 54 hours or books worth of reading.

Katelynn running the last few yards of her marathon!

The 2011 WELS Kids Marathon was a great success once again this year. We look forward to planning the 4th annual WELS Kids Marathon next year and inviting many more kids to participate and earn their finisher's medals.

I love this picture. Before the race, someone laid out all the finisher's medals on a table by the finish line. I may use this picture to advertise next year.

Keep on Running!!!


Mark said...

That is really something!!! You are making a difference!

Running Diva Mom said...

Great job, Bill! Everything looks like it turned out fantastic and totally awesome for everyone involved. Keep up the great work -- I know you will. Mark is right ... you are making a difference!!

Beth said...

So inspirational in every way! You've made a positive difference in so many lives. What an incredible program. I know you've put so much of yourself and your time into it and I'm so happy for you that it all went so well. Yeah!!