Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The impact of a running club

A couple of Cache La Poudre Elementary School teachers in LaPorte, Colorado,
met three times a week summer before last to run together. When school started they wanted to continue and they wanted to share their joy of running with their students.

They invited students to join them for an after school run on Tuesday afternoons. They chose a secluded trail behind their school with a bridge that spanned the nearby Cache La Poudre River.

Leslie Glenn and Payton Schneider had no idea how much their running club would grow. They conduct two sessions during the school year, one in the fall until the weather makes them quit, and another in the spring. At the most recent registration, 50 kids showed up. That spring thirty-five of them, along with Schneider and Glenn, participated in the local “Hunger Pains” 5k  organized by Poudre High School junior Lindsey Derringer to benefit the Larimer County Food Bank.

Now an established after school activity, the running club costs nothing and welcomes all grades. Parents of kindergarteners through second grade run with their children. “It’s become a social time for parents,” Schneider says.

Sessions begin with stretches in the gym before everyone heads out the door to what has turned out to be an ideal running course along the river. There’s no pressure. Walking is encouraged as needed.  Faster runners often go beyond the Poudre River Bridge and gauge their turnaround time so that everyone is back at school by 4:30.

“We’d like to do this twice a week,” Glenn says. Both she and Schneider are parents of small children and have limited free time.  They would welcome helpers to expand the program.

On a warm May afternoon I joined 40-plus kids, four teachers and several parents to run. Most had running shoes, but an occasional kid trucked along in flip-flops or Crocs, unconcerned about their footwear. The feeling was festive. School’s out. It’s warm, and we’re here enjoying the outdoors.

A note I received after that run describes the impact of the running club better than I ever could.

Hi Libby,

I’m Ryan’s mom. Thank you for running with the club yesterday and talking to the kids about running. I want to tell you how much the club has impacted our family.  It has made Ryan a runner. Mrs. Schneider and Mr. Strutz noticed his talent and suggested he start racing. Last year’s Hunger Pains was his first-ever 5k. He beat the teachers and he loved the race.
Ryan ran several more races over the summer. He had pneumonia when he was young and then developed sports-induced asthma. Luckily he has outgrown the asthma, but it still amazes me that he does 5ks.

Running has given Ryan power over being small for his age. He’s been picked on and has always hated any reference to “short.” Now he shocks runners as he passes them. He’s heard them call out, “Way to go Little Dude.”  These days he wears the  Little Dude title proudly and takes any name calling in stride.

I am so thankful for the CLP Running Club and the teachers who give their time to share the experience of running with kids.

Deb Lippert

Ryan Lippert  was a fifth grader when he ran the Hunger Pains 5k in 21 minutes that year. He has been steadily improving his times as a middle schooler.

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