Local YMCAs offer 5K training program for the Williams Route 66 Marathon

Children can now enroll for a fall 5K and fun run training program, thanks to YMCA Tulsa, and in conjunction with the Williams Route 66 Marathon.  This new six-week program is designed to prepare local children for the 5K race set for Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, during the Williams Route 66 Marathon weekend.

The training programs begin the week of Oct. 3, 2011, and continue through the week of Nov. 11, 2011.  Children aged 5 to 12 years are welcome to sign up.  The cost is $25, and includes a training T-shirt from the YMCA. Additionally, any child aged 17 and under will receive a special kids medal upon completing the 5K or fun run at the Williams Route 66 Marathon events thanks to St. John Health System.

Each week, children will participate in two training sessions.  One weekly session is held at the YMCA, and the second session will take place in a community location, such as LaFortune Park or River Parks.  Each session is one hour long.

The seven participating YMCA locations are Thornton Family YMCA, R.C. Dickenson YMCA, Downtown YMCA, W.L. Hutcherson Family YMCA, Owasso Family YMCA, Daily Family YMCA and the South Neighborhood YMCA.

“The addition of a kids training program to the Williams Route 66 Marathon family is great news for families and children across the Tulsa area,” said Chris Lieberman, executive director of Tulsa Route 66 Marathon, Inc.  “One of our goals is to improve the health and fitness of Tulsa, and we are grateful for the support of the YMCA in training the next generation of runners.”

Children do not have to be members of the YMCA to participate in the program.  Program scholarships are also offered through the YMCA membership for all programs.

“We are pleased to join other local organizations in whetting children’s appetites for running and fitness,” said Kyle Wilkes, executive director of the Thornton Family YMCA.  “By offering this training program, we will prepare the participants for this particular race, and hopefully a lifetime of running and physical activity.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is also working with the YMCA to select 300 children, who are already involved in YMCA programs, to sponsor in the 5K training activities.  These sponsored children wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to pay for and participate in an extracurricular activity.  The funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield will allow these children, located at various YMCA campuses, to enjoy the sport of running and participate in a community activity such as the Williams Route 66 Marathon’s 5K event.

“We understand the importance of improving the health of our community, starting with its youngest members,” said Bert Marshall, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.  “YMCA’s program fits hand-in-hand with our corporation’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative to improve the health of local children. We are proud to contribute and to hopefully instill in them a lifelong love of physical activity.” Blue Cross and Blue Shield also is the presenting sponsor of the Williams Route 66 Marathon.

To sign up for the program, visit any of the participating campuses.  If a scholarship is needed, participants should inquire about this upon initial communication with the YMCA.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, the 5-kilometer run/walk (3.2 miles) is scheduled for 8 a.m.  The one-mile fun run/walk is set for 9 a.m.