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Kauai Marathon takes message to students

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Students at Kalaheo School in the A-Plus after school program participate in an exercise program led by Robin Jumper and Chelsea Smith-Wishard of the Kauai Marathon.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Students at Kalaheo School in the A-Plus after school program participate in an exercise program led by Robin Jumper and Chelsea Smith-Wishard of the Kauai Marathon.

KALAHEO — A full marathon, Robin Jumper said to 20 students Monday afternoon, is a long way.

“Do you know how far a marathon is?” she asked.

The students shook their heads. There were some puzzled faces. Not really.

It would be like going from Lihue to Kalaheo, and then back again, Jumper explained.

“Does that sound like fun?” she asked.

“Yeah!” the students shouted with excitement.

This weekend, a few hundred runners will find out just how much fun running 26.2 miles is.

The 10th annual Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon is Sunday. Both races start and finish in Poipu. About 2,000 runners, most in the half, are expected for the starting gun at 6 a.m.

Jumper, who handles marketing and public relations for the Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon, and Chelsea Smith-Wishard, race registration coordinator, visited with the third through fifth graders in the A-Plus after school program at Kalaheo School on a rainy afternoon.

“We’re here to talk about being active and fit,” Jumper told the kids.

The marathon practices what it preaches. It organizes a Keiki Run each year, which attracts several hundred youth. It also promotes and has donated thousands of dollars to youth programs.

This year’s Kauai half marathon, 13.1 miles, includes many who are ages 11 to 15.

“Which is pretty impressive,” Jumper said.

Some of the young people in the half are coming up through the Kauai Marathon pipeline.

The Sixth annual Kauai Marathon Keiki Run is set for 9 a.m. Saturday on the far west side of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort &Spa. There is a 100-yard toddler trot for 2-4 year olds, a quarter-mile run for 5-7 year olds and a half-mile run for 8-12 year olds. It’s a festive affair, with family on hand to cheer for kids.

That event has introduced many children to the joys of running.

“It inspires them to want to get out there and participate,” Jumper said.

In a fast-paced, 15-minute presentation, Jumper and Smith-Wishard emphasized the importance of physical activity, and not just running.

The energized students happily joined in for stretching, push ups, jumping jacks and some quick steps running in a circle around the cafeteria stage.

There was no shortage of laughter, smiles and enthusiasm.

“Arms are just as important when you run, too,” Smith-Wishard said.

Jumper asked those in team sports to raise their hands, and name their sport: Soccer, baseball, football, paddling, boxing and swimming were mentioned.

Those are great, Jumper said. One goal of the Kauai Marathon is to get kids outside and moving, such as going for walks with their families or taking the family dog for a run or walk, even playing at the beach.

“It doesn’t always have to be an organized sport,” she said.

As well, they want to encourage keiki to think about healthy habits, including what they eat, and not spend so much time with electronics.

Smith-Wishard, one of Kauai’s top runners, said physical fitness offers lifetime benefits. The younger they are when they start something, the more likely they will stick with it.

“If you start now, you’ll carry that through the rest of your life,” she said.


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