r By Arianne Brown
On May 11 of this year, over 500 elementary students from the Nebo School District will toe the start line to complete a marathon. Yes, you read that right. A marathon. 26.2 miles in total. And it’s all because of Bethany Brown, a second-grade teacher at Maple Ridge Elementary.
The race is called the Payson Canyon Kids Marathon and begins each January with students running 25 miles at school — one-quarter of a mile at a time. From January to May, students run during recess and keep track of their mileage. Then on May 11, students gather for the final 1.2 miles for a fun racing event.
Brown, who is an avid runner, having completed 40 marathons herself, started this program because she wanted to share her passion for running with her students.
“The first time I did the Kids Marathon Program was in 2008 when one of my daughters was in my kindergarten class, and I did it with only my class,” she said. “The next time I did the program was when my son was in my class in 2013, and this time I got permission to do the program with the entire school.
“I started this program because I wanted to teach kids the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle,” she continued. “I want kids to learn at a young age how to take care of their bodies so they can enjoy life to the fullest into their adulthood. I have a passion for running and I wanted to share this passion with the kids I work with at school.”
Since 2013, the program has only grown. Last year Brown was able to get permission from Nebo School District to take it district-wide and ended up having had six schools participate with over 500 participants at the final event in May. And according to Brown, the kids really enjoy it.
“The students love it!” she said. “They become competitive and try to be the first one done with their running each day. Some have found a real talent and passion for running and share that with their family.”
The program begins with a kick-off assembly that she and her husband speak at, and where the kids do their first run. From then on, the kids log their miles until the final event in May, where they receive bib numbers, a race shirt, and a marathon finisher medal.
But, if you are a parent or sibling who has enjoyed watching your loved one set these goals, Brown has not forgotten you. The final event is also a family event. Parents, as well as siblings, can participate in the 5K event. Both events have a small registration fee.
More information can be found on the Payson Canyon Kids Marathon/5K Facebook events page (https://www.facebook.com/Paysoncanyonkidsmarathon/). If your school/class would like to participate, contact Bethany or Walter Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.