Sunday afternoon, April 9, marks the start of the sixth season of Asheville’s Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS) at Glen Marlow Elementary School in Mills River.
The races are open to children from pre-kindergarten through middle school. Race distances vary based on the age at the child. Online registration is open now on the Foot Rx Running Asheville website.
The series includes five race dates from April 9 to May 21, with no race on Easter Sunday or Mother’s Day. All races start at 3:30 p.m.
“Foot Rx Running Asheville and the RUN828 Foundation are excited to bring the Healthy Kids Running Series back this spring for its 6th season,” said Aaron Saft, Foot Rx co-owner and a 2015 Biltmore Beacon 40 Under Forty Honoree. “These races are all about having fun and motivating kids to be active. Our goal is to provide a positive experience for every participant and see them improve over the five weeks.”
The youngest runners kick off each race day with a 50-yard dash. They are followed by the kindergarten and first-grade runners who race 1/4 mile. Second and third graders step up to 1/2 mile, and fourth and fifth-grade runners, as well as those in middle school, race the 1-mile distance.
During the past five seasons, the Asheville HKRS has grown into a family event where multiple generations come out to watch the young runners.
“It is not just the fastest runners who receive the loudest cheers,” said Ellen Stallings of Foot Rx Asheville, “It’s often the runners with the biggest hearts who are working their hardest to complete the race.”
Joanne Moss of Biltmore Park has had 2 of her children participate.
“As an avid runner, I was thrilled that my children agreed to participate in the races. The support and camaraderie of all the families, plus the staff at Foot Rx, were awesome. I especially got choked up when we would be cheering with the same energy and enthusiasm for the last runner crossing the finish line as we did the first one. It made it even more special when you were the parent of one of those last kids.”
Her daughter, Sydney, added, “It was inspirational for me to watch the other runners, and I felt strong running.”
Her son Ryan said “Ribbons were given to all of us running, so even if you were not the fastest, you were still recognized for putting in the same effort. I thought that was cool.”
HKRS is a nonprofit program created to provide kids with a positive, educational and fun experience in the world of running. Over 150 different locations in 30 states are currently running Healthy Kids races in the spring and fall. Across the U.S., over 15,000 runners competed last year.
Founder Jeff Long said “I tell parents prior to the first race, ‘this is not the Olympic Trials’ and ask, ‘would you rather have your child home playing video games or out here running regardless of place?’’
All children registered for the series, which costs $35, receive a goody bag, T-shirt, finisher ribbon after each race, and a participant medal at the end of the series. Children may also run in a single race for $10. Trophies are awarded at the end of the season to the boy and girl in each age group who has earned the most points throughout the season.
Online registration is open at footrxasheville.com/healthy-kids-running-series-apr-9-may-21. Registration is also available in person prior to the start of each race. The organizers request that parents who have not pre-registered please arrive at Glen Marlow School by 2:45 p.m. to complete the paperwork. Pre-registered runners should arrive by 3 p.m.
For more information about the races, please check the Foot Rx Asheville website or call Ellen Stallings at 828-687-2825.
Proceeds from HKRS Asheville benefit the nonprofit RUN828 Foundation and the HKRS National organization.
By Mary Koppenheffer