A RUNNING USA RACING INITIATIVE?

     A year and a half after conducting a Town Hall meeting at their 2010 industry conference focused on the obesity epidemic, Running USA has yet to put in place a children’s initiative that would either compliment or coordinate with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move, NFL’s Play 60, or NBA’s Get Fit initiatives.  Though a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been floated to create a joint RUSA, USATF Foundation, RRCA initiative, to date, no consensus has been reached on implementing that, or any other such program. 

     It is classic running world paralysis, underscoring the deep divisions inherent in this most individual and turf-oriented of sports.  As RUSA President Virginia Brophy Achman of Minnesota has said, “While it is great that we all have thoughts and opinions, and I do embrace diverse perspectives, at some point we have to build consensus and move forward. “

     She is absolutely right.  Yet the passions in the sport run strong. And while that is a good thing, the existential division between road running and its default national governing body, USATF – which, given the state of that organization, shows no signs of changing – has led to a deeply rooted local event orientation, which in turn has made cross-event promotion and consensus an elusive target.

     This coming Tuesday another teleconference among RUSA board members will again broach the subject in an attempt to kick start a process which is quickly moving away from a sport whose mission and structure, at least on the surface, is perhaps best suited to address the growing national problem.  Continue reading

BRILLIANT CONCEPT – KIDS RACING

     There is an event going on today at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School here in San Diego which is taking a throwback approach to kids running.  The 2nd Annual Chelsea King Invitational Mile benefiting Chelsea’s Light Foundation is staging a series of one-mile races open to boys and girls in San Diego County. And here’s the wrinkle – somebody is going to win!  There are even qualifying times of 7 min/mile for boys, 8 min/mile for girls!  Qualifying times, not the inert “everyone’s a winner and no times are recorded” format which has mirrored the general decline in adult running performance this past decade.

     Kids from third to sixth grade will participate, and they must have teacher approval, i.e. homework up to date, and good citizenship.  Digital timing is provided by the San Diego Triathlon Club, and each race will have “rabbits” to ensure fast times.  Imagine, rabbits for kids’ races.  A brave new world, indeed.

The purpose of this event is to honor the memory of Poway High School runner Chelsea King who was killed February 2010 while out running near her home, and to promote the ideals she exemplified: athletic excellence, academic achievement, sportsmanship, and community outreach.  Although this event is intended to benefit Chelsea’s Light Foundation, organizers underscore that the event is not being produced by Chelsea’s Light Foundation.

Awards will go five deep with overall champions receiving pure silver commemorative medals, along with the title of “fastest elementary miler in San Diego County.”

We salute P.E. teacher Ms. Mary Lou Baranowski for organizing this event, and hope others will follow her lead and bring back healthy competition to our nation’s youth.
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