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Dash and dine

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | April 17, 2010 9:00 PM

HAYDEN - With one mile behind her, and a piece of red licorice in hand, Sophia Pennings decided it was a good time to take a break. The kindergartner at Hayden Meadows Elementary School stood and grinned as she chewed on the candy and caught her breath outside on the field Friday.

HAYDEN - With one mile behind her, and a piece of red licorice in hand, Sophia Pennings decided it was a good time to take a break.

The kindergartner at Hayden Meadows Elementary School stood and grinned as she chewed on the candy and caught her breath outside on the field Friday.

"I like getting exercise 'cause when I'm at my house I'm usually busy," she said. "Usually I go to places like the grocery store or my grandpa's or something."

Sophia is one of 266 students at the school in this year's "Run for Fun" program that promotes health and fitness. Friday, energy was high thanks to blue, sunny skies and temperatures near 70 degrees, a sharp contrast from last week's wind, rain and cold.

"I'm going again," Sophia announced as she trotted away.

Some dashed out after eating lunch, kicked off their shoes, and charged off alone or with friends.

"Good job, Trevor," shouted volunteer organizer and parent Angie Hannon, who clapped and watched fourth-grader Trevor Curtis set out for another half-mile lap.

Students run three days a week during the six-week program that wraps up in May, when participants will receive T-shirts thanks to grant money from the Ironman Foundation. Already, some have covered more than 10 miles total, all with nothing more than the promise of one piece of licorice after each mile.

"Sometimes we have kids that will do two or three miles at lunch," said Hannon, who is in her third year of overseeing the program with the help of other parent volunteers.

Hannon's parents, Randy and Wendy Medlock of Post Falls, made small wooden medals for the second straight year that go to the first-, second- and third-place finishers in each grade.

"It's like gold, silver and bronze," Hannon said with a smile. "Like the Olympics. The kids think that's awesome."

Fifth-grader Megan McPhee was among those running hard Friday.

"I get to get exercise, and then you get a treat at the end," she said.

Megan said she'll walk by herself or with friends, it doesn't matter.

"It depends on if my friends want to do it or not. Then, I go with them. If they don't want to do it, I go by myself," she said.

Trevor Curtis was "a little tired" as he circled the field on his way toward a goal of five or six laps.

He likes to run, he said, then added, "I don't know why.

"I just kind of like jog the whole way. I try to keep running, but sometimes I walk," he said.

Parent volunteer Jenny Baker said sometimes, Trevor runs a little too fast.

"He just came back and said sometimes when he runs so fast, he can't breathe," she said.

Baker's advice?

"I told him to slow down," she said.

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