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JUST RUN, the award-winning youth fitness program operating through the Big Sur Marathon Foundation, has completed the 2016-17 academic year with its highest totals in all categories since the inception of the program 13 years ago.
A total of 20,261 children took part in JUST RUN at their school site either during the school day or in before and/or after school programs. Aimed at students ages 5-12, the majority of children were primarily elementary school aged students. The previous record of students participating was in 2015 with a total of 18,333.
The number of schools participating also set records. Two hundred thirty-two schools from 32 states and six countries had their students running for health and fitness as they logged miles throughout the year. A record 550,316 miles were recorded between August 2016 and July 2017.
“JUST RUN” continues to grow and thrive,” said Susan Love, director of the Marathon Foundation’s JUST RUN program. “We’re thrilled that JUST RUN is providing the structure and motivation to get children moving. Teachers love it because it improves student better focus in the classroom and helps them become more physically fit.”
A secondary component of JUST RUN is “Just Deeds,” an optional element that promotes good citizenship. Students are encouraged to exhibit and record ‘deeds’ that they have done, from small gestures like helping out at home to larger altruistic goals. This year’s ‘Just Deeds’ total of 90,971 far surpassed any other previous year.
JUST RUN was named the Youth Program of the Year in 2016 by Running USA, the national trade organization for the sport of running, and one of several awards in its 13-year history.
The program is web-based, enabling any teacher or leader to participate. A wealth of information on running games, ideas, drills, fun runs and more is available at www.justrun.org. Miles logged in the system link to a “Running Across the USA” page where classrooms can track their collective miles as they virtually run across the country (or Europe). Teachers can develop geography lessons through this app as many sites along the route are linked to cultural and historical information. Teachers can also access the “Just Taste” portion of the JUST RUN website to teach the benefits of healthy eating, especially incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet.
JUST RUN was initiated by the Big Sur International Marathon organization (now Foundation) in 2004, focused primarily on schools within Monterey County, California. This year, 62 Monterey County schools participated, but the 232 total schools registered from across the U.S. illustrate the growth of the program.
Locally, JUST RUN is supported by a number of grants and charitable organizations including the Community Foundation for Monterey County (Rudy E. Futer Fund for Human & Humane Needs), the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, Rotary Club of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Yellow Brick Road, Benefit Shop and the Big Sur Marathon Foundation. Additional funding comes from runner contributions, entry fees into the Big Sur Marathon in April and the Monterey Bay Half Marathon in November, and direct proceeds from another Big Sur event, Run in the Name of Love in June.
Kickoff for the 2017-18 school and JUST RUN calendar begins August 1st. To learn more including how to register classes in the program, visit http://www.justrun.org/quick-start.