Times Remembered – Through the Eyes of a Child

Mary Jean Yon,


Make sure you look closely at the cover of this month’s Fleet Foot. Is that an adorable picture or what? Our newsletter editor, Fred Deckert, snapped that shot during Week # 6 of the Summer Track series and it truly evokes the epitome of happiness. Whether it’s the adorable outfit, the effortless glide around the track or the fact that nobody else is around to challenge our cover girl…we may never know what put that smile on her face. But I must tell you, she has inspired me to rant about another topic that should be important to all of us…getting kids to run!

Say what you will about the graying of the track club. We know we’re getting older. We know some of our most intense age group competitions take place in the Masters and Grand Masters age categories. But we also know it’s time to bring some youth into our sport to make sure somebody continues this fine tradition. Gulf Winds works hard to make this happen. The Summer Track series is one example. Other examples of youth outreach include: Miccosukee Madness, the Prefontaine races, SMIRF’s, the Chenoweth Fund and the Kent Vann Partners in Excellence Awards.

Truth be known, the message goes beyond just getting kids to run. And it seems it’s not just runners and walkers that worry about kids and their health these days. Sad but true, a large percentage of kids under age 12 are either overweight or obese. To say we’d like to see more kids running is just a small piece of the overall puzzle. Any increase in physical activity in general might be a more realistic goal and guess what? It’s on the way!

As Florida schools settle back into the groove this month, one noticeable change will occur in the elementary schools. Daily physical education (PE) classes will be reinstated for all kids in grades K-5! Now I have to ask…is it just me or is life more complete with memories of PE classes to flash back to? I still remember Ms. Littleton at Augusta Raa as though it were yesterday. She would give us lemon drops if we consistently dressed out in those oh so flattering jumpsuits that we rolled up in oh so many ways in an attempt to cope. And let us not forget the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge we did each year! Whoops! Maybe kids don’t need all of those memories. But hey…30 minutes of PE a day for five days each week? I’m all over that!

Perhaps if that spark ignites, we might even see some action on a recent motion that your Board passed which is also geared towards encouraging physical activity in the schools. In June, the Board voted unanimously to fund up to six “running clubs” in area schools that are separate and more low key than the usual cross country and track teams. To do this, we’re looking for a few interested folks to organize an after-school running group to simply spread the joy of the sport. We have an excellent summer tradition of teaming up with the City of Tallahassee to put on the Summer Track Series that draws 100 kids who run races of all lengths and produce Kodak moments similar to our Fleet Foot cover shot this month. But what happens once the school year begins? If it doesn’t work out for somebody to land a spot on the cross country team, then perhaps Gulf Winds can provide another alternative. Is this an idea with merit? I guess we’ll find out. If this is something that appeals to you and you see the potential to be that certain inspirational someone for some young runner, please let me or any Gulf Winds Board member know!

One last thought to ponder before you venture off to enjoy the month of September. Just as we worry about the younger population not being fit, the Road Runners Club of America has the same fears about adults carrying around excess weight and not exercising enough. In order to raise awareness about the importance of daily physical activity, this worthwhile national association (of which we are members) is sponsoring RRCA Run @ Work Day and encouraging people to include a mere 35 minutes of exercise into our daily lives. People all over the U.S. will be encouraged to run (or exercise) before work, during lunch or immediately following their work day on September 21, 2007. For more information, visit RRCA’s web site at www.RRCA.org.

See you at the races, which are now scheduled in abundance as we move into fall! Perhaps this is the best overall opportunity to make a difference. So, bring a friend! Bring a kid! Change a life. See you there!