Happy Sunday Run Day

With Spring event underway, Healthy Kids Running Series draws runners from across the Heart of Texas area aiming to promote activity in children for a healthier, fitter life

CLIFTON – Ready, Set, Go, and they’re off, again. Some familiar faces, but many new ones too. On a warm, blustery and smoky – because of area brush fires – Sunday, eighty-eight youthful runners turned up at the 2022 Spring Clifton Healthy Kids Running Series at the Clifton Park.

Family members, friends and their pooches showed up to support, encourage and cheer on the runners. Some runners had it easy, and grinned all the way to the finish line. For some the excitement, hard physical work or a combination of both brought on some anxiety and even tears. But with lots of love, hugs, high fives and a Kona Ice slushy, the hardship was soon forgotten and the feeling of accomplishment took over.

There were families from Bosque County and beyond, like Gatesville, Bruceville-Eddy, Burleson, Hillsboro, West and Waco.

To combat increasing rates of childhood obesity in America, Jeff Long designed a running program that provides a fun environment and builds self-esteem. The Healthy Kids Running Series was created to motivate kids to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through a positive introduction to the world of running.

HKRS is a national, community-based non-profit that provides a fun, inclusive five-week running series for ages two-14, designed for kids to get active, feel accomplished and lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Along with Long, Bosque County community coordinator Renée Kettler believes the program encourages kids to adopt a “Get Up and Go” attitude. A positive mindset and attitude goes a long way in running, and in everyday life. The HKRS helps promote this.

Even though race results are not the most important goal of the series, Kettler does post race results on the social media pages each week. Week one results can be found at: Healthy Kids Running Series - Clifton Week 1 Results. Results are sorted by overall points, not weekly placement. Scoring is based on the order of finish (1st place gets 10 pts, 2nd place gets 9 pts, etc). Runners are listed by their overall points total with each race category. The dasher divisions: (2/3-year-old 50 Yard Dash, 4/5-year-old 75 Yard Dash, and Challenger Dash) are untimed.

HKRS also offers a challenger race. The challenger race is an all abilities race for children of all ages with special needs that may - or may not - need a little extra help on the course. This first Sunday of the spring race series saw three youth with varying disabilities participate, with Kettler and caregivers running with them.

All distances and grade levels are set, and with that said, there is zero expectation the race has to be run the entire time. The participants can walk when necessary, crawl if need be; they will be cheered on just as loudly and enthusiastically.

“We just want you to get out there and do the best you can,” Kettler stressed. “But, if a running buddy will help - let’s talk.”

Unfortunately, the HKRS’ insurance does not cover the liability of a parent running with their child, but there are volunteers on hand to help out. This series both Valley Mills Independent School District and Clifton ISD students were on hand to help out youth struggling on the course – giving them pointers on pacing, better breathing and supplying water. The Bosque County Republican Club volunteers help set up and break down the course and help the youth to navigate the course, and “The Beef Team” helps with registration, at the finish line, timing, guiding the runners into line and taking tags.

Kettler loves her volunteers, that help so well that she can concentrate on keeping things moving and encouraging and supporting the runners. With that said, the Clifton HKRS welcomes any and all volunteers. So letherr know through the Clifton HKRS FB page messenger or text at (254) 386-7358.

Registration never ends, so if you have a child or children who want to join in the series, you can register on site or through: Healthy Kids Running Series - Clifton. Tell your friends -- let them join in the fun! The coming dates are 3 p.m. Sunday April 3, 10, 24 and May 1. There is no race on Easter Sunday. Kettler is hoping to have 100 youth registered this series.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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