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More than 200 Chiefland Elementary School students will have the opportunity on Saturday to complete 26.2 miles of walking and running that started at the beginning of the school year at the 5 Points of Life Kids Marathon in Gainesville.
The 1.2-mile final "race" will cap off over a semester's worth of extracurricular achievement by the elementary schoolers.
"I'm excited for the kids that go to the race," said Brandy Horne, one of the facilitators of the CES miles program. "They have a goal and they are very proud of it."
Nearly every morning since the start of the school year, students have been allowed to run up to two laps around the school's track between 7:30 and 7:50 a.m. Their goal was to complete 25 miles (100 laps) before the final leg at Saturday's race.
Horne, along with teachers Tammy Arrington and Debbie Manansala and many other members of the Chiefland community have helped supervise, monitor and encourage the young runners.
Levy County School Board member Paige Brookins of Chiefland, an avid runner herself, has been a huge supporter of the endeavor, donating funds to transport students to the final event in Gainesville and to provide lunch for all of them. Participants will also get a medal and a T-shirt.
In addition, Brookins funded necklaces which included charms shaped like runners given out after every completed mile for all students involved in the program.
"They would still do it even if they didn't get anything. The pride is enough," Horne said.
The 5 Points of Life Marathon helped inspire Brookins and Arrington to begin the program. Seeing the benefits of running at the marathon, they wanted to create a way for young runners in Chiefland to experience similar results. The program surpassed their, and the PTA's expectations for participation. They had to buy more runner charms after running out early in the semester.