Saturday GO FAR race promotes healthy kids
Caleb Littleton and Jacob Matthews gobble and gulp down apples and milk, sweating after a half-hour run Thursday in neighborhoods around their elementary school.
Before the workout, the Johnson Street Global Studies students stretched with fellow GO FAR squad members, teaching them to count in Korean, which they learned in their martial arts class.
“You’re putting something into yourself,” Jacob explained as to why he does so many activities in addition to GO FAR. “When you get older, you can run a marathon or compete in martial arts.”
Months of training by students at 29 area elementary and middle schools will culminate in a race this weekend.
Go Out For A Run, a North Carolina nonprofit that teaches students to set and reach exercise goals, will host the 11th annual Triad GO FAR 5K 9 a.m. Saturday at Showplace.
The race marks the end of the 10-week program, which teaches healthy habits and life lessons and prepares students to run a 5K
“It’s about setting a goal and working hard to get there,” Triad Race Director Michelle Townsend said of the program. “The race is just kind of the cherry on top.”
Townsend said more than 1,800 runners already are registered, and she expects 200 more, a good deal of which will be family members who are supporting the participants by running with them.
Family and friends who want to watch the race are invited to stand along the route, particularly at Showplace or at the corner of N. Hamilton Street and Montlieu Avenue, both of which the runners will pass by twice.
The spectators always are lively and more encouraging than a typical race, said Townsend, who has participated in larger, longer races, such as the 10K Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, S.C. Townsend remembers how rewarding it was the first time she ran in the GO FAR 5K with three of her children. They now are in high school but still run.
“There’s no experience like it,” she said, explaining that she saw early finishers run back and encourage their friends. “Everybody’s cheering for everybody. I was hooked.”
Before the race, there will be music, food and team warm-ups. For runners who would like a shorter route, a 1-mile fun run will precede the big race at 8:15 a.m. Townsend said she expects at least 150 runners for the fun run
The GO FAR program was founded in 2003 by North Carolina physician assistant Robin Lindsay. It has since spread to 10 states and reaches more than 10,000 students annually.
Johnson Street, represented by 165 participants in Saturday’s race, formats its program a little differently. Kindergarten through second-graders learn the GO FAR curriculum, while older students train for the run with their teachers.
“The empowerment that it’s given our teachers has been pretty amazing,” said physical education teacher Michelle Bode. “They’re setting a huge example, because they’re all shapes and sizes.”
GO FAR lesson plans geared toward children ages 9-12 promote healthy lifestyle decisions to help fight childhood obesity. According to a 2011 report by the Guilford County Department of Public Health, less than 37 percent of county residents are a healthy weight. North Carolina ranks 11th in the nation in childhood obesity, according to the Trust for America’s Health.
Townsend, though, believes that programs like GO FAR effectively combat childhood obesity.
“3.1 miles seemed so far 10 weeks ago,” said Townsend, who added that she can think of no better way to celebrate the runners’ success. “There’s no finish like that Showplace finish.”
Parents or teachers interested in bringing the GO FAR program to their children’s school should contact Program Director Kim Shue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
What: Triad GO FAR 5K
When: 9 a.m. Saturday, May 11
Where: Showplace in High Point
Where to park: Showplace lot at the corner of E. Commerce Avenue and S. Hamilton Street
To volunteer: Come to the check-in area at 7 a.m. race day
Late Registration: $27 ($12 for fun run), 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 10 at Off’n Running, 5870 Samet Drive
or $35 ($12 for fun run), 7-8:30 a.m. race day at Showplace