KidsMarathon concludes with more than 900 students
A group of Region 6 elementary school students lead the parade during the KidsMarathon's opening ceremony on Saturday. BZ photos
The biggest and, by all accounts, best KidsMarathon grand finale drew more than 900 elementary school students to the Plumb Hill Playing Fields track on Saturday for a celebration of fitness and healthy lifestyle.
Rod Dixon's program began humbly in Litchfield four years ago and has blossomed into a statewide phenomenon in which students get active by running the distance of a marathon over a two-month period in the spring and learn about the importance of proper nutrition.
Students from Litchfield, Warren, Morris and Goshen were among those running their final mile at the track on Saturday. In total, 14 area schools were represented. Dixon had already held similar grand finales at five other locations in the state.
The route to 26.2 miles begins in early April and progresses under a structured training program designed by Dixon. Parents, teachers and volunteers help keep students on track toward the distance with regularly scheduled runs during and after school. Several Litchfield High School track and field athletes served as mentors to the Litchfield participants and were at Plumb Hill to lead a stretching exercise and the final mile around the track.
Dixon, KidsMarathon Foundation Chairman Bill Burgess of Litchfield, First Selectman Leo Paul Jr. and local sports celebrity Brent Hawkins were on hand to oversee the finale. Hawkins was festooned in a colorful outfit as he honed his announcing voice for today's Litchfield Hills Road Race.
Saturday's proceedings included reality television star Kate Gosselin and her eight children. Gosselin came to Litchfield upon the invitation of Dixon so her chidren could complete the KidsMarathon. Today Gosselin will run the road race with Dixon. Gosselin and her children have spent the weekend at the Litchfield Inn.
Reality television star Kate Gosselin, below, appeared at the Plumb Hill track with her eight children.
Litchfield High School runner Ryan Gannon leads a stretching exercise before the run.
Local sports celebrity Brent Hawkins was the announcer for the event.
Guy Weik, principal of James Morris School in Morris, and some of his school's students before the start of the run.
First Selectman Leo Paul Jr. lends a hand during the opening ceremony.
Litchfield High mentors were at the front for the start of the run.
Warren School teacher Leah Smith ran with students from her school.
Goshen Center School teacher Emily Cahill accompanies some of her students on the track.
Kate Gosselin took time for photos with participants after the run.
Litchfield High students singing the national anthem were, from left, Ken Lautz, Sierra Markelon, Rachel Rubin and Rob Bongiolatti.