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In the heart of Orange County, in the southeastern portion of the greater Los Angeles area, lies Columbus Tustin Middle School, where Coach Brook Brown hosts the CT Bulldogs Run Club every Thursday. This is the first year for this grant-funded Marathon Kids club. The majority of its 225 participating students, who are in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, run at lunchtime on Thursdays as well as logging miles on Marathon Mondays and during P.E. class on Mile Wednesdays.

Middle School Run Club

Miss Brown, as her students call her, has long roots in the area. She attended Tustin Middle School herself some years ago, and then graduated from Tustin High School. She completed her student teaching at Tustin Middle School before being hired as the school’s girls’ P.E. teacher in 2013. As an athlete who is driven to set and accomplish goals, she wants to inspire her students to do the same.

Now finishing up her sixth year of teaching at Tustin Middle, Miss Brown heads up the CT Bulldogs Run Club with three other coaches, including Steve Dunmeyer, who was her own basketball coach back at Tustin High. “He inspired me to start this run club,” Miss Brown says, “and he has supported me every step of the way. He pushes me to be a better teacher, athlete and person.”

Her mother, Jan Brown, also comes to help out on Thursdays. “She comes out every week with her smile to encourage the kids,” says Coach Brown. “She loves being a volunteer and loves being active!”

Kids Run Club Coach

Jan echoes her daughter’s sentiments. “I love the Marathon Kids program,” she says. “I exercise every day. It’s so important for these kids to get outside, take a break and move. We have walkers and talkers and some competitive kids who run a lot.”

Tracking Their Miles

The students keep track of how many laps they run to equal a mile. On Marathon Mondays, three laps equals a mile; at Run Club on Thursdays, five laps is a mile. The students can also count every 20 minutes’ worth of medium-to-high-intensity sports and games that they engage in as one mile.

Miss Brown has seen numerous benefits for her students since they began running with Marathon Kids. Their favorite part about Run Club is being part of a team. “They love being with their friends and making new ones,” Miss Brown says. She has seen many of the runners’ per-mile paces improve, along with their grades, self-confidence and overall attitudes. “The kids are supporting each other and applauding each other’s efforts,” she says.

Seventh-grader Franco Zavala has always been a hard worker, but since he started with Run Club, his self-confidence is higher and his grades have improved. Jamie Ibarra, also in seventh grade, shows up to the track with a smile on her face and a positive attitude. Miss Brown has noted improved leadership skills in Jamie. “She knows it’s hard work, but she still pushes herself to get in as many laps as she can!”

kids run club runner

Miss Brown uses the app RaceSplitter to track her students’ miles. The children enter their locker numbers when they come by on Marathon Mondays, and they use tally tracking at Thursday’s run club meet-ups. They fill in their own mileage logs once a week, when Coach Brown updates them on their total miles. When the runners hit that magical 26.2 mile mark, they get to enter their names on the Hall of Fame poster outside the gym, and they are also recognized in the school announcements.

Miss Brown and the school have multiple ways of honoring the runners’ milestones and keeping the children’s morale high. She chooses a weekly Runner of the Week, for example, awarding a medal to a student who has shown effort. Eighth-grader Anthony Quintana, a recent Runner of the Week, loves to run and is always one of the first runners out on the track every Thursday. This makes him feel successful.

Marathon Kids California

Miss Brown also features students on the CT Bulldogs Run Club Instagram page when they earn Runner of the Week or hit major milestones, such as completing a marathon. She accompanies their photos with encouraging captions like “Yay!” and “Awesome job!” and “Unstoppable!” The students’ smiles and looks of pride are priceless as they hold up their certificates or rewards like Nike t-shirts and shoelaces.

Youth Run Club

A Fun-Loving Coach Who Knows Kids Need To Be Kids

When the school celebrated “National Pi Day” on March 14, Miss Brown signed up to be one of the teachers at whom students were allowed to throw a pie. “Bring it!” she wrote on Instagram the day before the event.

Miss Brown understands very well that kids need to be kids. Many of these particular kids come from low-income backgrounds, and they love their Marathon Kids running club. It’s new, and it gives them time to be social as they walk or run their miles together. Some of the students help their coach set up and mark off laps. Some of them are competitive and choose to race against each other, racking up miles as quickly as they can. Others walk and talk. Some simply run the whole time, keeping a steady pace as they make progress toward their goals. Marathon Kids is about going at your own pace and challenging yourself as you cover the miles.

Orange County Run Club

Many Benefits For The Students

As much technology as the CT Bulldogs Run Club has incorporated into its activities, it’s still all about getting outside onto the track and putting one foot in front of the other. Many of the runners have finished one marathon already and are well on their way toward finishing a second one. As Miss Brown’s mom Jan says, “Anything is better than staying at lunch on your device.”

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AUGUST 7, 2018 – AUSTIN, Texas – Marathon Kids, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that shows kids through running that they can achieve more than they ever thought possible and puts them on the path to healthier lives, today announced the opening date of their Marathon Kids national grant for the 2018-2019 school year. Marathon Kids is funded primarily by corporate and private sponsors to help communities all over the United States create running clubs for kids, and on August 15, 2018, the grant portal will open for one month.

In the previous school year, the Marathon Kids National Grant:

  • Provided $1,057,000 of funding to 568 run clubs
  • Helped 86,046 kids get running (89% of total runners)
  • Awarded grants to recipients across 44 states, prioritizing schools and high-need communities

More than 93% of recipients have a large percentage of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. Forty percent of recipients are brand new to the Marathon Kids program, receiving vital funding to help them jump-start the program for the first time.

Grant recipients will receive awards to register participants for the Marathon Kids program at no cost. Schools kick off their run club season at the start of the school year, and students work toward their first marathon milestone (26.2 miles). They then strive to complete their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th marathon milestones before the season’s end.

“Our goal is to get kids moving and show them the joys and benefits of being active for life,” said Marathon Kids CEO Cami Hawkins. “We want to fund as many clubs as possible and we are diligently working to grow our donation base and engage more sponsors.”

For more information on the grant and to register to apply: marathonkids.org/grants



Marathon Kids mission is to show kids that through running, they can achieve more than they thought possible, and put them on the path to healthier lives. The organization empowers teachers, parents, and coaches to start a Marathon Kids running club in their home, school, out-of-school time organization or camp.

Kids in the program work at their own pace to run, or walk, the equivalent mileage of up to four marathons, and Marathon Kids provides the training, rewards, tools and resources to keep them moving. Marathon Kids works for any kid, at any fitness level.

Kids set their goals and track their progress on a journey to complete four marathons, or 104.8 miles, over the course of the running club season. They run (or walk) a lap at a time, at a day at a time, and before they know it they’ve gone farther than they ever dreamed. Kids enrolled in the program have a network of dedicated adults showing them how it’s done, and most importantly, a motivated and inspiring coach supporting them every step of the way.

Corporate partners and supporters include Nike, HEB, St. David’s Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, LA Dodgers Foundation, Active Schools,Target, Tejas Trails, and Athletes for Hope.  

More information is available at marathonkids.org.




Kristin Shaw, Director of Communications




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As a Physical Education teacher at a Title I school in Cornelius, Oregon, Coach Ashleigh Crunican knew that her students were dealing with issues like homelessness, abusive households, and struggles with academics and self-esteem.

And with many of the students living in a mobile park community on a busy road, they didn’t have the safest spaces to play in or run around, either.

The majority of the school population consists of first-generation American students living below the poverty line, so Coach Crunican was committed to providing a Marathon Kids run club to her students for free.

During the school week, Coach Crunican’s students get 1 hour of P. E. classes. With the help of Marathon Kids donors, the Cruisers run club members now get to spend another hour together snacking, goal-setting, playing games, and logging their miles.

Kids Run Club

Photo courtesy of Pamplin Media Group.

Nicole, a third grader, has been joined on the track by her mother every Tuesday. Mom cheers on the runners, volunteers to track mileage, and even runs around the track with her daughter. As a family, they are pursuing better health.

After reaching her first milestone, Nicole looked surprised and said, “I can’t believe I ran a marathon!” Inspired by one of her high school volunteer coaches, Nicole now wants to pole vault and run high school cross country and track, just like her coach.

Fourth grade speed racer Yosgart thought he would only run one marathon, and now he’s already run two (52.4 miles!). An avid soccer player and dancer with the school’s Ballet Folklorico group, Yosgart has discovered his love of speed too.

“I like the way it feels when I can go really fast,” he says.

Coach Crunican has been thrilled with the results for the kids she coaches.

“I want to let you know how grateful I am. I really enjoyed cheering the kids on as they ran. Toward the end I started to get emotional and had to step away so the kids wouldn’t see me cry! It is so moving to think of what some of those kids are going through – and then to see them smiling, supported by caring adults, running around the field again and again. The run club will be such a valuable experience in so many ways for everyone involved!”

For more information on Marathon Kids grants, click here.