By Kristin Boza
Last year, BAPA came up with a way to get neighborhood kids and their families interested in the sport of running by offering free 5K training programs to every school. Volunteers at each school coordinated the running teams and, as a result, a great number of kids successfully completed the 5K on Memorial Day. This year marks a huge milestone for the Ridge Run as it celebrates its 40th year of competition and neighborhood camaraderie in commemoration of our nation’s military heroes.
Clissold School, 2350 W. 110th Pl., boasted an incredible turnout for the event last year, with over 100 students and parents – including the Clissold Cougar! — running as the Clissold Team, and the community cheering them on.
“Our goal last year was to put Clissold back on the map with a variety of events to make us relevant again in the community,” Clissold principal Sean McNichols said. “The Ridge Run was another way for us to celebrate coming together as a school.”
McNichols extended the invitation to train to everyone in the school community, and planners originally intended to make the training a part of Clissold’s track program, which practices at Morgan Park High School. Many of the parents organized their own training regimens and held a few practices at Clissold.
On the day of the Ridge Run, the large crowd, all in matching shirts, participated in a group stretch, along with Clissold’s cougar mascot in full regalia. “It was really fun, that was the first time the whole team was together,” McNichols said. Clissold’s PE teacher volunteered to wear the heavy mascot costume and even ran part of the race while wearing it, despite the intense temperatures.
Clissold’s PTA organized the team to promote health and well-being for the school, McNichols said. He praised the collaborative planning efforts of Clissold’s PTA, LSC and Friends of Clissold committee in providing great fundraising, after school sports and events for the Clissold community.
This year’s Ridge Run 5K training team will start organizing in March. “It coincides with our track program, so our kids are really excited to start the spring sports season. Everyone is in the mindset of running and joining both our track team and the Ridge Run training team,” McNichols said.
McNichols is proud of his school’s incredible participation and the strength the Clissold community drew from the event. “It was inspiring to watch the support of one another unfold. We look forward to bigger and better things as we continue,” he said. “The Ridge Run is a great way for all schools and the community to get together and celebrate our community. To be able to celebrate all of our neighborhood’s schools in a public setting is really great. I challenge other schools to get together and participate — it will be fun and exciting for everybody.”
Free Ridge Run 5K Training for Schools
By the time the 40th Annual BAPA Ridge Run arrives on Mon., May 29, your kids – whether they’re couch potatoes or budding athletes – can be ready to run the 5K.
BAPA’s free Ridge Run 10-week 5K Training Clubs created last year and 12 schools participated. Each school needs to recruit an adult to lead the program. The training program is geared to students in 4thgrade and above, and offers proven techniques including running, cross training, nutrition, skill-building and even how to choose running shoes.
Training starts in March and will kick off with a spaghetti dinner for training team participants and their families Wed., Mar. 8, 6 p.m. at Ridge Park. The kick-off will $5 per person or $10 per family and includes spaghetti dinner from Calabria, speakers and information, and team registration. Runners participating in the training program get discounted entry on the Ridge Run 5K.
Training teams should meet two times a week and members commit to an additional weekend run with a parent.
Training meetings are set up around a warm-up, workout, drills, a cool down game and a stretch. Besides finishing strong in the Ridge Run, the kids will get a lot out of the program. The practices are positive and encourage kids to cheer each other on; and the kids will gain confidence and learn about setting and achieving goals.
Ridge Run Running Club Training guides and more information are available from Margot Holland, firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-233-3100.