This year’s Kids Run the OC (KROC) is on May 4 at the Orange County Fair and Event Center. But KROC is much more than a one-day event.
Supported by the OC Marathon Foundation, KROC is a 12-week training program in participating Orange County schools. It is designed to promote fitness, good nutritional habits and to combat childhood obesity.
For each school that chooses to participate, the OC Marathon Foundation provides mandatory training to teachers and other volunteers who want to become coaches. Students participate in activities that help improve speed, agility and hand-eye coordination.
“The KROC program prevents boredom by engaging kids in fun running games that increase their physical activity in age appropriate ways,” said Angie Rowe, KROC’s program and event director. “The program also includes nutrition activities designed to modify behavior and engage the whole family with at-home assignments.”
By the end of the training program, each student will have accumulated the equivalent of 25.2 miles and be ready to finish the final mile at KROC.
The KROC program started in 2004 with 400 students. It grew to 4000 runners in 2012, and 5000 participants are expected this year.
KROC participants receive two medals, one on the day of the event, and a second one at their schools. “We hold assemblies at each participating school to award kids who finish the program their ‘marathon medal’,” said Rowe, “the same medals our marathoners receive on race day.”
“There are very few things as special as putting a medal on those kids,” said Rowe.