SESRunArossAmericaOriginally Published The Nugget News May 31, 2016
Author Erin Borla

Have you ever wanted to run across the whole country? Students at Sisters Elementary School(SES) got the opportunity to do just that this spring.

For three weeks, students from preschool through fourth grade can choose to forgo playing at recess and run all the way around the playground. Each lap represents approximately a third of a mile. Students receive a punch card; for every lap they get a hole punched in their card. Each card has 15 punches representing five miles. Students that complete a card receive a toe token to wear on their shoe or as a bracelet or necklace. Students that run a full marathon get a pizza party with PE teacher Mark Lamont.

“I wanted to run this year because it was very fun last year,” said seven-year-old Emmitt Buller.

Run Across America is an optional recess activity that has happened every spring for the last 10 years at SES. Students try to run or walk enough miles to go across America in 12 days. Everyone’s laps count toward the school’s goal of approximately 3,100 miles.

“I wanted to find a way to motivate kids to run and possibly discover a talent for or love of running,” said Lamont. “Getting elementary children interested in distance running is tricky. ”

Lamont believes having a school goal, along with individual goals like the toe tokens and pizza party, seem to do the trick to motivate many of the young students.

“The students are inspired and ready to go,” said Lamont. “Some first-graders ran 30-40 miles at recess times.”

First-grader Kainoa Goe-Alayon loves Run Across America.

“He is so excited every day to share his progress and his toe tokens,” said his mother, Kimberly Goe. “He finished his marathon last Monday and he is so excited about the pizza party! He loves to run!”

Lamont sent home paperwork to all the families before the program began explaining it and its goals. Exercise has many benefits including: controlling weight, combating health conditions and diseases, improving mood, boosting energy, promoting better sleep – and fun. If students develop a positive relationship with exercise at a young age the passion can grow with them.

Approximately 200 students participate at some level in Run Across America every year with about 20-30 making the full marathon – five cards plus four punches on the sixth card.

“Many of the outstanding Run Across America runners have been successful on our track or cross-country teams at the middle and high school, and many more probably will in the future,” said Lamont. “Sometimes students who struggle academically achieve great successes during Run Across America – that’s my favorite part.”

Buller, together with four friends, challenged each other to run during each recess. He had a goal of 50 miles over the three-week program and he achieved it. Both Emmitt Buller and second-grader Daniel Miller each ran over 60 miles.

“I feel proud of myself that I reached my goal,” said Buller. ” I got strong, I got fast and I got confident.”