Shanahan Middle School Students on track to better health
50 Mile Club keeps students on their feet and active all winter long
Two months ago, Jack Rettinger wasn't a runner.
But since Jan. 7, he's logged 50 miles on his feet. That's 200 laps around the track at Shanahan Middle School.
"It was hard at first, but the more I ran, I realized I was going faster, my legs were getting stronger and it was a lot more fun," said Jack, a sixth-grader.
He's one of 155 students in Shanahan's 50 Mile Club, a group that meets every winter to run or walk for fun and exercise. A few teachers also participated this year.
The goal is for each participant to run or walk 50 miles in January and February. That's 27 school days, so runners must average about two miles each day to reach the goal.
Those who rack up 50 miles or more get a T-shirt to memorialize their achievement.
Some participants run on the quarter-mile track behind the school, while others opt for a half-mile course around the school building.
Shanahan teacher Frank Wilcox started the club 10 years ago to encourage students and staff to stay active all year -- even when the temperature starts to drop.
Now seventh-grade math teacher T.J. Luttrell runs the group.
"We try to find a way to help the kids stay active during winter months," Luttrell said.
"It's a good way for track and cross country athletes to stay conditioned in the winter, but it's also for students who are trying to lose weight, stay healthy and socialize a little bit."
Seventh-grader Meredith Detweiler said she's hoping to get in shape for track season in the spring.
"Running just gives you a rush," she said. "It makes you feel like you're really in control of yourself, and if you can run for a really long time, you just feel on top of the world. It's almost like you're flying."
Friends Thomas Zuelke, William McGraw and Josh Gernert run together each day after school. The sixth-graders said they like the exercise and hope to join the track team when they're eligible next year.
"It's good social time," William said. "It's really fun because you can run and talk to your friends."
Math teacher Kristin McMahon is using the 50 Mile Club to train for a marathon.
She said she hopes the club will inspire students to adopt a healthful lifestyle.
"We hope that their efforts will continue into the spring or summer, so when they have some free time they'll get off the couch and go run or take a walk."
Runners Grant Maddox, an eighth-grader, and Sason Rezaei, a seventh-grader, aren't likely to give up the habit after this month. The pair logged about 100 miles each in January and February -- more than any other participants.
They said the 50 Mile Club helps them stay in shape for soccer, track and cross country.
Sason said he has one other reason to rack up the miles: "Bragging rights."