A record field of more than 3,500 youth runners and their parents and teachers took part in Big Sur Marathon’s fun run at the end of April. The JUST RUN! Just Kids 3K welcomed participants from 37 schools throughout Monterey County to compete for prize money based on school participation. A cash purse of $10,700 was awarded to 17 schools.


Like the Big Sur Marathon, participants ran alongside the ocean but on a gentler course in Pacific Grove and the Monterey Bay coastline. All runners received a finishers’ medallion, a “Crab Crawl” t-shirt, and post-race refreshments at the finish area. Pre and post race festivities included entertainment from well known race 'jester,' T-Bone, fitness fun from the Monterey Sports Center, and hands-on activities from the local Monterey Youth (MY) Museum.


“It’s exciting to see all these kids come out,” said Buzz Joseph, a Big Sur Marathon volunteer who serves as coordinator of the Schools Competition.  “Everyone has a smile on their face.  And for some of them, especially from the Salinas Valley, it’s the first time they’ve ever seen the ocean.”


An added honor this year was the involvement of the California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, and the Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, Nancy Kotowski, on hand to start the race and help present awards to the participating schools, along with the JUST RUN race committee.


Local schools Robert Down (Pacific Grove), the International School (Monterey) and Graves School (Salinas) each received a $1,000 check from the Big Sur Marathon. Prize money and placement distributions were made based upon the number of students as well as the percentage of total student body.  Schools involved in the JUST RUN youth fitness program received a greater amount than those not taking part in the program.


JUST RUN is a school-based fitness program, offered free to any teacher, leader, school or district. Some of the program's features include tracking of students' mileage as classes "run across the USA (or Europe)," incentives and tokens for miles recorded and "Just Deeds" completed, nutrition information and much more.


"JUST RUN is a program that we want all schools in California to embrace because it works," said State Superintendent Torlakson. "You get parents involved, you get teachers involved, and most of all you get thousands of young kids involved and they're having fun and getting confidence in themselves. We're going to use it as a role model and take it up and down the state and say, "Here it is, do what Monterey does and get something like this going in your county."


The semi annual JUST RUN! Just Kids 3K events serve as ‘goal races’ for students enrolled in the marathon’s JUST RUN youth fitness program, and are held in conjunction with the Big Sur International Marathon each April and the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay in November. 


For more information on the JUST RUN program or JUST RUN goal races, contact Susan Love, susan@love@sbcglobal.net or visit www.justrun.org.