Marathon Club getting hundreds of students

Marathon Club getting hundreds of students running with a purpose
Posted on 10/04/2018

Marathon Club offers students plenty more than just a recess activity. The club, which includes hundreds of students across grades K-5 at all three Lynden elementary schools, gives students a purpose, a goal, a sense of accomplishment and plenty more.

And it all runs over months of work.

Around for more than a decade in Lynden Schools, the Marathon Club encourages students to voluntarily choose to run laps during recess. Parent volunteers count the laps as students run, punching laps on each student’s card. Every five miles fills a card, rewarding a student with “feet” they can attach to a chain and wear. After 25 miles, or five cards, students qualify to participate in the Final Mile, this year Nov. 16.

During the Final Mile, all three elementary schools gather at Lynden High School’s track, under the bright lights and with music playing, to complete the last 1.2 miles of a marathon. Each student then receives a medal for their accomplishments.

“It is a unique place where kids work hard at something over a long period of time to accomplish a delayed goal,” says Mike Sebastiani, Fisher Elementary physical education teacher. “Most of the things in our culture today are instant gratification. This is a major exception to that.”

Mitch Kornelis, physical education teacher at Isom Elementary, says that while students can ebb and flow in their dedication, he sees the sense of accomplishment for those who stick with it as a major benefit. “This is a long way to run for a kindergartner with short legs and the knowledge that they can do something that seems difficult if they just persist has benefit,” he says. “Many students are quite disappointed on days it is too rainy outside. Plus, they like to see their names on the list of those done with their five cards.”

Whether the status symbol of collecting “feet” on a chain — many students collect them over their entire elementary school career — or the fact students enjoy have a group activity at recess, all while volunteers cheer them on, the Marathon Club gives purpose to the effort.

Marathon Club also gives a home to students who want to be more active. “Kids simply want to run,” Sebastiani says. “I am amazed at how excited they get when I tell them we are going to do the Marathon Club.” He says the endurance gained over the two months continues to impress him and many of the students develop a healthy sense of competition while learning to set and attain personal goals.

For the volunteers, the club gives them the opportunity to connect with students and learn about them individually, something the students also appreciate.

“I love that the Marathon Club is something all the elementary schools share in common,” Sebastiani says. “It is amazing to see how many kids and families we are able to bring together at the final mile to celebrate the hard work the kids have put in.”