Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Sports

May 15, 2014

Healthy strides

Get Up and Go running program off to fast start

A new healthy kids running series has gotten area youngsters to Get Up and Go this spring and the community coordinator behind it is eager to bring it back for another round come fall.

Andover mother and runner Amy Smith said almost 200 children in pre-kindergarten through middle school signed up for the five-week series, with about 130 to 140 participating each week.

Some of the youngsters have come from Maine and New Hampshire to run the races, which have been held at Andover Village Improvement Society’s West Parish Meadow off Reservation Road.

The course length varies by age, from a 50-yard dash for pre-kindergartners to a 1-mile run for fourth- and fifth-graders and middle-schoolers.

“It’s been really successful, really enjoyable, and the kids are having a good time,” said Smith, who has two children, ages 7 and 11. “The parents enjoy it, too. There’s no pressure and the kids are seeing improvement each week.”

The series is part of a national, nonprofit youth running program designed to combat childhood obesity while providing children with a positive, educational and fun introduction to the sport. Smith said if children aren’t intimidated about running, they will be more inclined to continue doing it for exercise when they become adults.

The Andover series, which has met late Sundays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., represents the program’s introduction to New England. The cost was $30 for the series or $10 per race.

The local series wraps up this weekend. All of the youngsters who participate in the last day of races will receive medals. In addition, those who signed up for three or more races will also get T-shirts and race bags containing giveaways. A bonus parent fun run is planned for this Sunday as well.

The local sponsors of the series include Andover Pediatrics; Dr. Kevin Bagnall, D.D.S.; Greater Boston Running Company, Little Sprouts, Lowell General Hospital and Russell’s Postal and Office Supplies.

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