11/29/2011, 10:04am PST

Training program helps kids go the 2.62-mile distance on race day

Nov. 29, 2011
For immediate release

Muffet McCleneghan loved leading her second-graders around the grass field at Twin Lakes Elementary School in Orangevale, the miles adding up as she helped them learn to run and embrace fitness.

By the time she retired from teaching 18 months ago, about half of McCleneghan’s students were hitting the cumulative 100-mile mark from the weeks leading up to the California International Marathon and its popular 2.62-mile Kaiser Permanente maraFUNrun.

And many of those young kids she’d helped become runners are still at it, graduating to 10ks and half marathons and marathons on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

“I have kids in college and beyond that are still running,” McCleneghan said. “They learned early on fitness is the key to a healthy, long life.”

The Kaiser Permanente maraFUNrun marks the culmination of an eight-week youth fitness training program designed to prepare kids for the 2.62-mile race and help them run a total of at least 26.2 miles, the marathon distance.

The free program, offered by the Sacramento Running Association, features gradual distance increases and rewards kids with ribbons for cumulative distances achieved: 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles) and marathon (26.2 miles).

This year’s race is expected to include 1,400 kids from 35 schools, with another 600 friends, parents and family members expected to join the field for the 8 a.m. start on Sunday. The race begins and ends at 9th Street and Capitol Mall, with runners and walkers crossing the same finish line as the marathoners, who start at 7 a.m.

“It’s a great way to get started running, a low-pressure environment,” McCleneghan said. “It’s grown a lot. We have repeat offenders that come back just because it’s so much fun.

“Lots of kids do it with their families. It’s huge fun.”

Kids 13 and under can register for $10 at the CIM Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center on Friday from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. or on Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration is $15 on race day, from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m.

Older runners and walkers can sign up for $20 at the Expo and $25 on race day.

The race is held in the spirit of fun and fitness. There’s a clock at the finish, but times will not be recorded and there will be no posted results. All participants will receive a T-shirt.

Shortly after the maraFUNrun ends, an expected field of 8,000 marathoners will begin finishing the 26.2-mile course that winds from Folsom to the state Capitol. Another 4,000 relay runners are also entered for the 29th annual CIM, which is founded and organized by the Sacramento Running Association and presented by Kaiser Permanente.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.