JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In addition to the 15K National Championship and the 5K on Saturday morning, there is also a Junior River Run, where hundreds of children will complete the 1-mile course.
In many area schools, children have been training for this run for months. In the Adidas Junior River Run program, the kids run 8.3 miles in training, then finish their final mile on Saturday.
At Lakeside Elementary in Clay County, where more than 140 kids have been training, they have done much more. Students who complete five out of the eight running events each year get a gold medal at the end-of-the-year banquet. If they do that for all their years at Lakeside, they get a 3-foot tall trophy.
"I started playing soccer at the age of 8, and you have to run to play soccer. It just came naturally to me," Mariam Adam said.
Lakeside PE coach Kim Tracanna-Breault has been helping motivate kids to run for 27 years. She says that over the last few years, their school always has the most participation in local running events.
"My kids are so into running. They so competitive, but yet they enjoy just the fact that we are participating in all of these fun runs," Tracanna-Breault said.
"I saw my brothers running. They started here and wanted to do Mrs. T's program, so it looked fun and I wanted to do it," Spencer Kirkham said.
Tracanna-Breault said participating in the Junior River Run is different since it is such major community event.
"My kids are tired before they even run since they are going around getting all the free food and using the bounce houses. They love doing this because, eventually hopefully they will turn into cross country runners and hopefully 9.3-mile runners," Kim Tracanna-Breault
Some of the kids have run mile times under six minutes. They have goals of running in high school, college and maybe one day, the Olympics. With so many kids being so motivated, it makes it easy on their coach.
"I don't have to beg these kids; they come to me. They want to be a part of the Adidas Junior River Run. They want to be on the track team. They have the thirst for being physically active, and they are good at it. They excel at it."
"It's going to be fun," Mariam said. "We always go and eat something, and we play in the bounce houses."
Lakeside also has a marathon program in the school. For every kid that runs 26.2 miles throughout the year, they get a shirt and a medal. Many of the other schools in the area also have Junior River Run training programs.
Copyright 2014 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.