Running and stepping for more than prizes

GMR teacher Ashley Duray and second-grade GMR student Tarson Erickson finish out the last lap during a Mighty Milers run on a sunny 50-plus-degree day after school in Middle River on April 6. Erickson achieved the highest award milestone in Mighty Milers so far this year at GMR, having earned the first marathon medal for completing 26.2 miles, the length of a marathon.

Second graders Emma Neste and Jaxon Melcher rush to finish their last lap during Mighty Milers. To monitor improvement from the program, at the beginning of the school year, the head organizers time the students on a half a mile distance and then at the end in the spring will do the same thing. Although, for the students, it’s not so much about running, as they can walk if they want, but also socializing.

Third grader Eizen Olson runs out the final of his half-mile lap, as part of the program Mighty Milers. GMR teachers Tina Taus and Ashley Duray both started this program in Middle River from their own passion to run and their desire to give students, ones perhaps not involved in after school sports, a chance to get involved in something.

At about 3:15 pm on Thursday, April 6, if one stood in front of the school in Middle River, they would have seen one or two elementary students at a time round a corner, taking a quick break with a walk in front of the playground fence. Then either Greenbush-Middle River teachers Tina Taus or Ashley Duray would encourage them to finish their lap, and many would almost instantly speed up into a run to finish that last lap on a sunny, 50-plus-degree day.

Taus and Duray both started this program from their own passion to run and their desire to give students, ones perhaps not involved in after school sports, a chance to get involved in something.

“There’s kids that maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable in an organized sport or that feel confortable going and spending half an hour with their friend (and) will run with them,” Duray said. “We have a couple kids that stick together the whole time because they run the same pace and they cheer each other on and they don’t feel pressured to get done first.” 

These elementary students were running as part of Mighty Milers, a program sponsored by the New York Road Runners, and a group headed locally by Taus and Duray for the past four years. For middle school students, these two women also head “Go Noodle”, an interactive online workout program. Around 70 students in second to eighth grade participate in these programs, ones providing more than the opportunity to pick up miles by foot.

To see the full story, read the April 12 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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