CRANBERRY TWP — The Pittsburgh Marathon will be held Sunday, but some local residents are focused on its prelude.
The Pittsburgh Kids Marathon, a one-mile run, will be held Saturday morning, a day before the main event.
Over 100 kids from Haine Elementary/Middle School are expected to take part and many of them have been participating in workouts in preparation for the race.
Every 15 minutes of physical activity count as one mile. Children can use everything from gym class to their involvement in a youth sport to accumulate miles. The idea is to build up 25 miles worth of activity, with the last mile coming at Saturday’s event.
To help reach this goal, a 45-minute workout session has been held the last four Tuesday mornings at Haine and the turnout has been a healthy one.
“Between (kindergarten) and sixth grade, we have over 100 kids,” said Tyler Mesisca, a physical education teacher at the middle school. He and Kevin Wildrick, in the same position at the elementary level, oversee the workouts, held before the start of school. “We have different running games for the kids and they get excited for it,” said Mesisca. “That’s the whole idea, find a way for the kids to be active, get them off the couch.”
Matt and Julie Jones have three children taking part in the workouts — Hannah in fifth grade, Mallory in second grade and Nathan in kindergarten.
“Hannah and Mallory ran in the (kids) marathon last year, but this is the first year they have done the workouts,” Julie Jones said. “They love it. A lot of the games involve teamwork and teach cooperation.”
Julie Jones has run in the Pittsburgh Marathon several times and plans to do so on Sunday. She encourages physical activity with all of her kids and all three are involved in youth sports.
“I used to be a P.E. teacher and I guess our kids got their love of getting out and moving from me,” she said. “Things like this teach them that physical activity really is fun.”
Leading up to the kids marathon, an organization called Kids of Steel held an assembly at Haine in December.
Said Jones, “They did a great job of promoting it and Mr. Wildrick and Mr. Mesisca encouraged the kids to do it.”
“The workouts teach kids how to pace themselves,” said Wildrick. “There’s a lot of cardio work and the main goal is for them to just have fun.”
The kids marathon will begin with several heats on the North Shore in between Heinz Field and PNC Park. Haine’s kids are scheduled to take off at 9:55. The route takes participants across the Clemente Bridge and ends on Stanwix Street.
Afterward, medals are given out to all runners and food and refreshments will be available at Point State Park.
“Hannah said the best part is crossing the bridge,” Julie Jones said. “The kids were very excited to get their medals last year.”
Tuesday mornings have recently come a little earlier for the Jones children, but they don’t seem to mind.
“I wish the workouts were every day,” said Julie, laughing. “The kids get up and get ready by themselves. They’re excited to get to school. Other kids from the neighborhood, they all get together and talk about what they’re going to do that day. It builds camaraderie.”