CHIPMUNK CHASE FUN RUN
Twice a year, we scamper like chipmunks around the trail at CNC Software. It's our semi-annual club fun run, the Chipmunk Chase.
FOR HAPPY FEET KIDS
We keep this event low-key. It is for our club members only AND their families. There is no sign-up. Everyone is invited to come. We order enough (low-budget) medals for all and more.
Everyone runs or walks the 1-K trail that goes around a field, across a road (we have an adult monitor this) over a bridge, into the woods, up a steep hill, and down to the medal table. The endorphins click in and the kids run again. And again. And again.
We sing the club song, at least 2 verses anyway. CLUB SONG
Here are some photos from our event. The kids found a hill after the event. It was fun to climb - reminding us of the sandpit at the Soapstone Sampler. I'm sure this will become a "part of the course" in the future. If you are an adult who has forgotten how to have fun, then sign up for the Connecticut Soapstone Sampler and you will remember.
A fun run gives a sense of accomplishment. Kids reach goals in front of their friends and families and are part of something bigger than themselves. There is excitement in the air and they excel at doing things that come naturally.
When I had my first fun run in the 90s, the parents all volunteered to hand out medals, point kids in the right directions, pour water, etc. Now it is pretty hard to find a parent to do these things because they are all running with the kids. So we make the fun run self serve. We need ONE volunteer and that is for the road crossing. The rest just goes on its own.
BRING YOUR OWN
As for water , the children are asked to bring their own water bottles. A flier is sent home multiple times and handed out at the last few clubs. I know, I know, it is a waste of paper, but if it is handed out only once, it is easily lost and the fun run is missed.
Don't try this if you're not a kid anymore. I did and OUCH, my shoulder. It's reminiscent of when I broke my leg trying to imitate an 8-year old doing an ice skate spin.
HISTORY OF THE HAPPY FEET CLUB
Years ago, when I became a runner, I ran with my first-grade class. As an incentive for a home ultramarathon type exercise program that the kids did over vacation, we decided to have a fun run.
RUN, SPOT, RUN
We called it "Run, Spot, Run", a name I still love today. The kids sometimes came dressed up like spotted dogs. We ran on the field behind our school and parents lined the course. We had tees, a raffle, and recycled medals from runners around the country.
At that time I was writing for Way Cool Running and people were very interested in what I was doing and very excited to support the kids and encourage kids to become runners.
Years later, we moved the fun run to a local park. The kids ran an XC route through the woods. My schoolchildren made signs for the run and we posted them on trees. This was sort of a deep trail run and there was the chance that kids could get lost so parents stayed on the course and pointed the way.
At that time I had a full-fledged classroom running program, so I had the kids journal after the run at the fun run, with their parents by their sides. They almost all cooperated. One of my main reasons for sticking with this program was that running helped reluctant writers. It was not so hard to write about running.
RUN TO READ AND WRITE FUN RUN
Soon I became the Founding Editor of the Runner's World site kidsrunning.com. Amby Burfoot had hired me. We continued running at the park, but for a while I changed the name of the event to "Run to Read and Write" to match the classroom curricular purpose of my program. I tried to get sponsors to give out books to the fun runners but with no luck. One year a parent supplied workbooks for all of the kids. I think they were Explode the Code workbooks.
THE CHIPMUNK CHASE
Years later, I became an author. I asked my school if I could have an after-school club. I needed this. It was becoming impossible to have a full-running curriculum related classroom. The world was changing and high-stake testing was driving us. They said yes. My first book "Happy Feet, Healthy Food" was coming out, but at that time I was afraid to ask them if I could name the club after my book so I called the club Miles of Math. But I believe the fun run that year was called the Chipmunk Chase. I don't remember how I came up with the name. And I'm not sure if that very year it was called that.
Now the club is called the Happy Feet, Healthy Food Kids Club or Happy Feet, fit and fun (as the tees say). The fun run is and will always be The Chipmunk Chase. And we are still going strong.
I don't work for kidsrunning.com anymore, but my heart is still in my work and I hope that I can continue to do great things for kids.
Note: The Chipmunk Chase is a part of the theme of my chapter book, "The Treasure of Health and Happiness". Poor Hannah, she is afraid to sign up for the school fun run!
Another Note: The Happy Feet Club was originally sponsored by CNC Software and nerac.com. Many thanks to Mark Summers and Kevin Bouley. It is now a parent-pay Tolland Recreation Program and better than ever. This year we brought back the math connection. Kids counted their laps daily.
Happy Feet, Healthy Food, Your Child's First Journal of Exercise & Healthy Eating
The Treasure of Health and Happiness
Kids Running: Have Fun, Get Faster & Go Farther