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Celebrate Family Fitness, Joy of Running

By Staff | Apr 27, 2012

I had the privilege to speak for the second straight year at the Boston Marathon Sports Medicine Conference hosted by the American Medical Athletic Association (AMAA). Last year my topic was barefoot running (the hot topic of 2011). This year I spoke on healthy aerobic development for life and the work of Arthur Lydiard, whose influence brought “jogging” to America in the 1960s. This took running from a competitive sport to a fun daily habit of activity for the masses. My friend, 1992 Olympic Bronze Medalist and 1984 Boston champ, Lorraine Moller applied the historical perspective and I spoke on the modern application.

This was the 41stannual presentation of this Meeting. Much of what we now know in the field of endurance medicine was first presented at this conference and guidelines for safety have been changed as a direct result. Although the most immediate topic of interest was heat and hydration management in anticipation of record setting warmth during the race, a big theme coming out of the conference was how we engage youth in the vigorous life. One presenter shared data on what makes kids want to get outside and exercise. The number one response: “My parents do it.”

A big goal of the AMAA is to recreate family focused fitness with a focus on youth. They are sponsoring a national Run a Mile Day May 12. Our community will play as we invite all children 10 and under to our free 1 mile fun run at the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon. For children 10-18 we will offer free entry to our 4 mile trail run/walk through the School House Ridge Trails of Harpers Ferry National Park. What’s the catch? A free event? There is none, but we highly encourage the child to bring a parent to run or walk with them.

Why do we want the child and the highly influential parent out running? Because of changes in diet and lifestyle, kids are increasingly at risk for diseases that can significantly diminish the quality, productivity and length of their lives.

In West Virginia, close to 40 percent of elementary-school children are overweight or obese.

An obese child has high odds to become an obese adult, up to an 80% chance if you are an obese teenager.

Type 2 diabetes is expected to afflict over one in three children born in 2000 due to poor diet and lack of physical activity.

Health-care expenses and productivity losses related to obesity problems cost Americans more than $100 billion annually.

Currently, obesity-related illnesses cause some 300,000 deaths a year. Inactivity and poor diet will soon overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

A little about the course you will be cover in the run. Race committee member Lois Turco, chair of Two Rivers Heritage Partnership, is working to establish the region as a National Heritage Area and along with Harpers Ferry National Park Chief Historian Dennis Frye see this event introducing both visitors and the local community to not just the beauty, but to the history lessons they cover on the route.

“We wish for the runners and walkers to keep returning after the event to learn more about our region’s story,” says Turco.

I run the course almost daily over lunch breaks at my job at Harpers Ferry Family Medicine. This is truly an event of historic proportions. Every time I run this route there is something new for the senses and something challenging. The half marathon will be challenging with a mix of road and trail and over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The 4 mile encompass the more gentle rolling grass hills of Harpers Ferry National Park School House Ridge.

The one mile kids run will be a trail run at host River Riders. Some of the major historical sites covered in the event include John Brown’s Fort, The Armory of Virginius Island, Bolivar Heights, School House Ridge and the pre-Civil War towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry.

The event will benefit two local non-profit organizations: Eastern Panhandle Indigo Children (EPIC) and its mission to improve the health and opportunities for children with autism, and The Outdoor Education Center of For Love of Children (OEC of FLOC) with a mission to facilitate healthy character development for youth and adults in a powerful outdoor classroom.

Host Site for Start/Finish and post race festivities will be River Riders (www.riverriders.com) in Harpers Ferry. Registration for all events is open and information (www.harpersferryhalf.org). Youth signing up for free can sign up race day or Friday evening prior. Quality timing and start/finish line management by Precision Race who assisted with Freedom’s Run. Race Headquarters Two Rivers Treads Center for Natural Running and Walking (www.tworiverstreads.com).Call 304-876-1100. Contact email Todd McKinney at tworiversheritage@gmail.com. Free kids 1 mile run at 11 a.m. immediately after the two main events. Volunteers are needed. You can enter information on the website volunteer tab or contact Laura Bergmann (fitnessfanatic247@yahoo.com) or Katie Nolan (knolan@floc.org) Free T-shirt and invitation to post race party for all volunteers!

A special thanks to our key sponsors: Silver Lining, The Bank of Charles Town, The Town’s Inn, River Riders, Panera Bread, hypnocoffee, Pizza City and Mountain State Brewing Co, as well as WVU Hospitals East and Eastern Education for the Title Sponsorship of Freedom’s Run and sparking the event series.

And now for the brief Boston Marathon post race report. I used all the cooling strategies in the book to place 153rdand 4thin my age group in a starting field of over 25,000. The goal was to stay happy, wet and comfortable and arrive safely at the beer tent and not the medical tent, which treated over 2,000 runners. Due to the conditions they offered deferment to anyone who wanted to take a pass and run next year. Over 4,000 runners took this safety option.

Congrats also to local runners Jared Matlick, Diana Gorham and Missy Price for qualifying for Boston and running well in the heat. More on the Boston and all topics healthy running at www.naturalrunningcenter.com.