Big Sur Marathon Foundation’s youth fitness program hits 5 million miles
PRUNEDALE — Students at Echo Valley Elementary School celebrated a landmark by Big Sur Marathon Foundation’s youth fitness program in an appropriate fashion Thursday: running.
The Just Run program recently surpassed 5 million miles run by kids across the country since the program began in 2004. The free, website-based youth fitness program promotes physical activity, good citizenship and healthy eating through its Just Deeds and Just Taste components. School leaders and teachers log students’ miles on the website and students earn free incentives for mileage goals achieved.
“We selected this school because they participated last year, did a great job and ran over 12,000 miles,” said Susan Love, the program director of Just Run. “We felt like we wanted to honor them and continue to spread our program throughout Monterey County.”
Love said the program can have an impact not only on the fitness levels of children but also on their ability to concentrate and focus in the classroom.
“We appreciate the hard work of the principal and the PE teacher to bring this all together,” she said.
Love, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Deneen Guss, Superintendent of North Monterey County Unified School District Kari Yeater and Echo Valley Principal Therese Phillips were among the speakers at the event who told the students about the importance of running and physical activity.
Ramon Lopez, the physical education teacher at Echo Valley and Elkhorn Elementary, said programs like Just Run help motivate students and help them continue to live healthy lives.
“For me personally, my goal for PE is to not only develop physically literate individuals but then to get them excited about wanting to be active and wanting to participate in different types of activities,” he said. “I try to make PE fun. It doesn’t matter what ability or skill level you have.”
Since its inception, 174,000 children have participated in the program. During the 2018-2019 school year, 22,500 children participated in the program and a record 644,000 miles were logged. Just Run has been the recipient of widespread recognition including the title of “National Youth Program of the Year” from Running USA.
Mike Dove, the Just Run program developer, said reaching the 5 million mile mark is something the Big Sur Marathon Foundation could only aspire to back when the program started. It started with eight schools and 400 kids in Monterey County. He said the program now has groups in 35 states.
“It’s a beautiful day and like I said to the kids, every day is a good day to run,” he said. “They don’t have to run fast, they just have to move.”
Since launching Aug. 1, 8,500 children are registered in Just Run for the 2019-2020 school year, with 17,700 miles logged. A total of 94 schools in 15 states have committed to the program for the school year. To learn more about Just Run, visit
JUST RUN is supported by the Community Foundation, Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Pebble Beach Company Foundation, Yellow Brick Road, and Teichert Foundation. To learn more about JUST RUN visit justrun.org.
Full Article found here: https://www.montereyherald.com/2019/09/19/big-sur-marathon-foundations-youth-fitness-program-hits-5-million-miles/