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The award-winning youth fitness program JUST RUN is a key element of the health and fitness outreach of the Big Sur International Marathon, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The program is committed to the health and well-being of children, to promoting physical activity and to addressing the epidemic of childhood obesity.
The program began in 2004 and focused on a small number of schools within Monterey County. However, because it is website based, turn-key, free, and easy to implement, it expanded each year locally and throughout the country. Since its inception over 125 thousand children from more 39 states have cumulatively logged over 3.5 million miles. JUST RUN has received numerous awards from organizations such as Running USA, the California Governor’s Council and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and the Monterey County School Boards Association award “for excellence in education.” JUST RUN is recognized as a significant youth program by the national “Let’s Move” campaign initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Alliance for a Heathier Generation.
The program is led by program director Susan Love and a volunteer team which includes the developer, Mike Dove, and former teachers and administrators (see biographies). The program is supported by Big Sur Marathon staff members who assist with administrative and marketing functions. On site, volunteer leaders are primarily teachers and youth leaders or parents conducting the program within the school day or in after-school programs.
In its mission statement, the Big Sur Marathon states that its purpose is “to serve the community by producing a world-class marathon and related fun events that raise funds for contribution to local charities, while promoting health and fitness.” A newly adopted strategic plan will help further the organization’s efforts to promote health and wellness via the JUST RUN program as well as additional event outreach throughout Monterey County.