Youth on the run: Geist Half Marathon targets kids

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The Geist Half Marathon is doing its part to encourage local youth to get their exercise.

“We really formed this 11 years ago to promote health and fitness,” Geist Half Marathon Executive Director Aprill Shelburne said. “We’ve since promoted that to mental health and fitness across school systems and youth. Our entire idea is to introduce kids at a young age to walking, running, some sort of endurance event so they get that feeling of not only the endorphins going but achievement of going across finish line.”

At last year’s race, with options of a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon, 1,800 of the 4,800 participants, or approximately 38 percent, were kids under 18. Many were students from Hoosier Road Elementary and their families, thanks to Shannyn Miller’s involvement. Miller now works as a wellness teacher at Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate and Junior High School but previously taught at Hoosier Road.

Miller became involved in Geist Marathon’s mission of youth health in 2008, when the fundraising race was founded. She organized a training program for Hoosier Road Elementary third- and fourth-graders before eventually expanding it to grades K-4.

“I thought, ‘Oh, what a great opportunity to give kids a chance to do something in our own backyard,” Miller said. “A lot of 5Ks are not geared towards kids.”

ADDING THE 10K

Miller said by getting kids running at an early in age, they are more likely to pursue the activity as they grow.

A major reason the 10K race was added to the Geist Half Marathon was to provide a more challenging option for experienced young runners.

“A big chunk of participants is kids, and the majority of those are in the 5K,” Shelburne said. “The reason why we introduced the 10K a few years ago was a lot of kids grew up running the 5K in elementary, but when they to junior high, they were looking for longer distances.”

In the past, the race has served as a fundraiser for Hamilton Southeastern and Lawrence Township education foundations. In past years, proceeds were split with the two schools. This year, the group is taking a different approach. The foundations will still receive the funds, but they will be divided by district participation instead of an even split. Last year, each district foundation received $10,000.

ST. VINCENT STEPS UP FOR WELLNESS

St. Vincent is sponsoring the race and boasts a large contingent of employee participants. Last year, St. Vincent’s 400 associate participants accounted for 10 percent of registants for the series of Geist Half Marathon races.

Lactation consultant Jennifer Hubbard began running when she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She has since lost 140 pounds.

“The hospital offered to pay for the race for any of the associates, which is huge,” she said. “I’ve run the Geist Half Marathon last year and did the 10K before that. Running has been a huge part of me getting healthy and getting that under control.”

Hubbard trains with the Fishers Running Club and plans to run the Geist Half Marathon this year.

The Geist Half Marathon will be May 19. For more, or to register, visit geisthalf.com.

Race road closures

Road closures for the Geist Half Marathon will begin as early as 5 a.m. They include the following:

  • Olio Road from 116th to 96th street is closed from 6 a.m. to noon. Olio Road south of 104th Street will begin opening up at 8:30 a.m.
  • 116th Street east of Olio Road through Ringer Road is closed from 5 a.m. to noon.
  • Fall Creek is closed from 96th to 96th from 6 to 10 a.m.
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