Most of us look forward to our lunch break as being a relaxing mid-point in our day: an opportunity to step away from work at hand, turn off our phones, and breathe a little deeper.
Ironically, this group of determined Allendale Middle School kids have found a way to breathe a little deeper, too, but it’s not because they’re sitting down and relaxing. Instead, they’re spending their lunch hours running laps in the hallway the minute they’ve finished their lunches.
The Allendale Marathon Club is currently open only to sixth-graders who are willing to sacrifice a portion of their lunchtime in order to meet a lofty goal: running enough laps over the course of several weeks to complete those elusive 26.2 miles.
Started by Mrs. Shelley Jourden in 2008, she said what motivated her to get kids running was the fact that she began competing in 5Ks herself. She notes that oftentimes her students begin with ambitious goals and then soon thereafter, fall away when the work becomes too difficult.
But this year has been different.
“I currently have 27 students running. This is a first to have that many stick with it! I truly enjoy seeing the students set a goal and achieve it. Many think it is impossible to run a total of 26.2 miles, but it’s not! It also brings joy to see them encourage others to finish,” she said.
Mrs. Jourden spends her lunch hour standing in the hallway with popcicle sticks used to keep track of laps completed. Each time students run past her, they collect another stick and then turn in their pile before heading off to afternoon classes. Mrs. Jourden keeps track of how many times they run the loop.
While some students are intrigued by the 26.2 mile goal, just as many are encouraged by the idea of getting healthy and feeling better. Chloe Williams and Heather Koenig both note that since most of the winter is spent indoors, the opportunity to get moving was appealing. Though they haven’t been runners in the past, they say that Mrs. Jourden’s Marathon Club has given them the push they’ve needed to begin.
The club will keep running all spring, finally wrapping up the same week as the 6th grade award ceremony. At that time, students will be recognized with a certificate of completion, a gift, and will see their names added to the AMS Marathon Club plaque that hangs proudly in the hallway by Mrs. Jourden’s classroom.
We applaud the efforts of these young athletes! They inspire us all!