Keep Moving Forward

Spring edition of the Healthy Kids Running Series proves to be an overall success; finale with medals & trophies at Clifton Park

CLIFTON – With the slogan “Get up and Go!” area youth Got up and Went, giving their all in the Healthy Kids Running Series spring finale at the Clifton Park – former football field.

Held each Sunday for the past five weeks, the series organized by Renee Kettler, is designed to stimulate youth to run as a form of exercise and to learn to enjoy the activity. Besides the usual enthusiastic and empathetic support of family and friends, the finale May 1 brought medals and trophies to the game. And besides the usual bananas, Kona Shaved Ice and water, this Sunday there were free hamburgers to be had to replenish the lost energy.

The finale day is also the day of the “Parent mile” in which the parents get to run the grueling one-mile course, and show their kids that they too can persevere, grit their teeth and cross that finish line.

“This is my favorite part of a series,” Kettler said to the parents at the start line. “You get to do what you’ve been encouraging your kids to do for the past five weeks. I know not all of you are runners. I know my brother Herb and his wife aren’t, but they are running the mile to show his kids it’s okay to challenge yourself.”

She also reminded the adults of the HKRS creed “Run when you can. Walk if you have to. Crawl if you must. Just keep moving forward and never give up.”

Prior to the finale day, the HKRS Facebook page had a poem for the runners:

"All runners get medals; For doing hard things; Be proud of yourself; And show off your bling! Parents run the mile; It’s your turn to shin; Your kiddos will cheer; And say, hey, that one’s mine!"

The parent mile gave the youthful runners a chance to return the favor of support and encouragement, running alongside their parents, urging them on, or clapping along the course to keep them motivated to carry on.

Being a runner herself, Kettler runs a 12-minute mile. With a 13.10 minute mile, her brother did an excellent job.

The HKRS helps youth learn how to run and to learn to love the physical activity, developing friendships, and the competitive element - if only to better their own personal times each run; and to never quit.

As she awarded the medals, Texas Beef Team volunteer looked each child in the eye and made sure they knew how proud they should be of their achievements.

With each race in the series, the natural born runners kept improving their personal records with seconds, others shaved off 2-3 minutes each time they ran. And through the fatigue and sometimes some physical discomfort, the youth’s faces at the finish line showed a sense of accomplishment.

Besides the category trophies, there is always a Healthy Kid Award. This accolade is awarded to the youth that exemplifies the positive attitude and personal improvement that are the founding principles of the HKRS. This year, Kettler selected both a boy and a girl for the award.

Rance Dorward always runs his heart out. Even after he fell one week and was covered with very painful stickers, he did not quit. He would run a bit, stop to remove some more stickers, run again, stop, remove more stickers, but he kept going. And he always finishes with a big smile on his face.

After the first week, Ashley Cox thought about quitting, to the point of telling her parents about it. But she came back every week, even though the races were not easy for her – especially the week when a brush fire south of Clifton filled the air with smoke. But finishing alone was not enough. She kept pushing herself to improve, wanting to know every week she wanted to know whether she had finished with a better time than the week before.

Because being there with family and friends is important. They give encouragement along the course, at the difficult moments in the race; they offer that comforting hug or hand on the shoulder after giving it all in that last sprint to the finish line. They give the positive reinforcement that makes it all worth it.

Kettler is extremely grateful for the teams of volunteers that help the event run smoothly every week like the Texas Beef Team, The Bosque County Democratic Club, State Farm’s Savannah Leah, the Clifton High School National Honor Society students who assist with registration, passing out water, manning the stations along critical points on the course, run buddies, collecting bib numbers, coordinating the finish line. She also has many community sponsors she is very grateful for whose funding help pay for the Finish Line blow up, the banners along the course, race T-shirts and more.

Over the course of the series, the enrollments went up 115, a marked improvement from last year’s spring series, making the event an overall success. There were 23 girls signed up for the half-mile race alone. Kettler proudly mentioned that some of the larger cities don’t break the hundred mark. Kettler is planning a second series in fall 2022, and hopes to welcome even more enthusiastic families and volunteers.

A link to weekly and final results can be found on HKRS Clifton Texas’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hkrscliftontx and https://healthykidsrunningseries.org/php-jdbc-bridge/results2/2022_Spring/clifton-tx-wk4.pdf?t=1651893431

Scoring is based on the order of finishers -- first place gets 10 points, second place gets nine points, etc. Runners are listed by their overall points total with each race category. Race results are submitted from the local Community Coordinator.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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