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On Tour: RUN A MILE DAYS “East & West"

Heads turned as the bright green and yellow minivan pulled up outside the track. High school aged kids said, “Look, it’s the Way-back machine!”. Such was one of the typical reactions as the “MILE DAYS TOUR” hit schools and track meets on both coasts in April through June. The 2015 NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAYS events may not rival a music festival tour. It did garner attention and plenty of “likes” on social media. Running the mile is the message and what better way to showcase the schools, organizations and clubs that committed to join in the “ARE YOU A MILER” campaign.

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Two “Run A Mile Days” vans were “wrapped” and delivered for each Tour. The West Coast Tour originated out of Portland Oregon and was sponsored and driven by our partner with YOUTH RUNNER Magazine. The East Coast Tour was based out of the American Running (ARA) headquarters in Bethesda Maryland. Once the image of the wrapped vans were shown to Mile Days hosts, the requests for Tour stops rose sharply.

WEST COAST MILE DAYS TOUR:

First Tour dates focused on some middle school invitational track meets in California. American Running and Youth Runner came up with a “tour plan” to promote the “mile events” at track events where middle school athletes were competing and to be at other track events where parents, coaches and high school athletes would be drawn to the RUN A MILE DAYS Tour vans. The Orange County Track Meet and the meet in the San Francisco Bay area played host to the first West Coast trip. Kids received “Are You A Miler” tees as random giveaways, as well as Miler stickers and posters. The message being spread: that running the mile was both fun and a great starting point to a life of running and improved fitness.

Highlights on the West Coast Tour The overwhelming growth and popularity of the “MILE DAYS” events was never more present than in the state of Washington. Over half of the sponsored schools nationwide were in towns and school districts in Washington. The true rock star school district is in Gig Harbor and the Peninsula School District plus neighboring Tacoma. A series of “Mile Days” events stretched over a 2 week period in May. Over 14,000 students in elementary and middle schools ran the mile this year. It all began at one school, Harbor Heights Elementary in Gig Harbor over 5 years ago, all due to the efforts of AMAA member Dr Pat Hogan. He is no doubt the Pied Piper of Running the Mile! Up north of Gig Harbor in Federal Way, Barb Tight’s running programs brought in over 2200 more milers in 2015. Multiple mile events were added to fit into the West Coast Mile Days Tour. The West Coast Tour concluded in early June at one of our model schools, Gauer Elementary in Anaheim California. Bauer joined the RUN A MILE DAYS campaign in the initial years and has become a model for all schools nationwide. Situated in an area of Anaheim with 85% reduced or free lunch students, Gauer has strived link academic “scholars” and running as a combined path of success. ARA brought in Ed Lychik as a motivation to these young scholars. Ed is an Army veteran who lost a leg while serving on active duty in Afghanistan. He has run the Boston Marathon twice and inspired kids and adults with his enthusiasm for life.

Other Mile Days Events not on the Mile Days Van Tours Indiana and Iowa have shown a large increase in Mile Days school sites in the past year. The notable event was in the Iowa City School District where RUN A MILE DAYS grew from one school of 500+ students to over 8 schools and 3800 students in one year! All the credit goes to a retired PE teacher Karen Bagby who took the success at her elementary school and recruited 7 other schools. The Mile Days Van could not make the drive west to Iowa, but the kids were not forgotten as they all ran and wore their “ARE YOU A MILER?” tees.

EAST COAST MILE DAYS TOUR

American Running did a preview and promotional tour to two sites in Tennessee and Virginia in April. The Tennessee Relays in Knoxville Tennessee welcomed the Mile Days Van for the 2 day college and high school relay-focused track meet. Along the drive south, the RUN A MILE DAYS van gave away free stickers and a few tees. The grand kickoff of the 2015 MILE DAYS TOUR was set for May 3rd in Columbus Georgia. ARA member and community podiatrist and runner Dr Ed Lopez rolled out the welcoming committee for the first Mile Days event of 2015. The Mayor of Columbus GA issued an official proclamation that May 3rd was the official “NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAY” in Columbus Georgia. The Kids Mile event was preceded by a reading of the proclamation. The young milers of Columbus set the tone for the Mile Days Tour with their smiles and high-fives after running the one mile event.

Highlights of the East Coast Mile Days Tour Stops. Northern Virginia schools played host to Mile Days events and the Tour. Twain Middle School in Alexandria VA is an ethnically diverse school in the eastern edge of Fairfax County. Its PE Department is all about fitness and has embraced the mile as a key element in their year-round fitness program. All 900+ students ran the mile on a measured course at the school. The other veteran school is North Springfield Elementary where running the mile is a tradition that goes back over 25 years with a “Miler Club”. Due to school renovations the mile event had to adapt its course but still managed to complete the MILE DAYS 2015. The East Coast Tour headed northwest into western Pennsylvania to Grove City. New in 2015 was the addition of the elementary school to the middle school’s longstanding commitment to Mile Days. The growth added 280+ students to the nearly 450 middle school students who ran the mile over 2 days.

Besides the official Tour Stops, other sites that were sponsored included Hampstead Middle School in New Hampshire. This school was motivated in other way. Their lead PE Teacher Kate Muskrat also fundraised for the National Mile Days Campaign and ran the Boston Marathon. Her bonus reward was the enthusiasm of her students when they ran the mile in May. Mile Days was welcomed in Nahant Massachusetts and a few private schools elsewhere in New England.

The final Stop for the East Coast Tour was at Doswell Brooks Elementary in Capitol Heights Maryland. The small school outside the Nation’s Capital was one of the most energetic and enthusiastic on the 2015 Tour. Besides the K-6 students who ran the mile on a tough rolling hills course, pre-school students walk-ran the mile with 6th graders who escorted each of the young milers. The school’s Principal was cheering on every student and “encouraged” every faculty member to also run the mile. No doubt that fitness and fun are a recipe for success at Brooks Elementary in Prince Georges’ County Maryland.

Thanks to all the AMAA Fundraisers at the Boston Marathon who made the expansion of NATIONAL RUN A MILE DAYS 2015 possible. The funds raised for the Youth Fitness Campaign brought more materials, training materials, website resources and “MILE DAYS Tees” to schools and groups nationwide.

For any school that is interested in joining the 2016 MILER CAMPAIGN, please contact Maria Kolanowski at American Running: maria@americanrunning.org. Add “Request to join MILE DAYS 2016” in the subject line

SEEN AND HEARD…

Nothing gets athletes and runners more excited than “freebies”. Go to any large track meet or even a community running event and you will see both kids and adults clamoring for the free stuff. What is hot these days or simply the gotta have item(s)? Recently at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals Track & Field Championships in Greensboro NC it was easy to spot what high school athletes liked: the giveaway sunglasses. To be seen and photographed in the hip sunglasses was a must! What else is trending hot? Covers for cell phones, stickers and socks. Regarding socks, the more color the better. One other thing that is trending is providing a backdrop for athletes to have their “running profile of stats” posted on a green wall or similar electronic wall. The result is a photo of the athlete from that event with their best times by events along with adjectives describing just what type of monster runner, thrower or jumper they are on the track.

Enjoy the summer runs before or after the baking sun!

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