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Marathon Kids Dallas Final Mile Celebration 2011 Report

Marathon Kids Mission

Our mission is to build joyful community around children and be quickly accepted into public, private and home schools as a free, innovative, celebratory fitness and nutrition program, resonating with the child… and with the child’s family. The goal is for the child to develop the love and habit of moving through space and to carry forward the power of muscular, nutritional and psychological well being.

Last Saturday I volunteered at the Dallas Area Final Mile celebration for the Marathon Kids program. What a great experience…and my hand is still sore from all the high-5s.

Finish Line!

The Marathon Kids program (based in Austin, Texas) has positively impacted k-5th grade children for the last 15 years and has helped inspire movement, quality nutrition awareness, and even some gardening skills to over 1,000,000 youth that will shape and help determine this world’s future.

And best of all…it is a FREE program for the youth involved thanks to corporate and private donations.

The Basics of the program:

  • Children run/walk 26.2 miles across 6 months and track their progress in the Running Log.
  • Children are encouraged to eat 5 servings of fruit/vegetables a day for at least 26.2 days per month and track their progress in the Fuel Log.
  • With local non-profit partnerships, the children can be provided tools and resources to start a schoolyard garden.

The program is currently active in nine major city areas within the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Illinois, and Maryland.


I arrived in the pre-dawn hours at a local high-school (??) football stadium to setup the track and infield for the hundreds and possibly thousands of little tikes. Imagine multiple 100s of excited children ready to run wild…a funneling system is required to keep the event from turning into a mosh pit.

Where the children/little bulls enter onto the track.

After finishing the run...funneled through the center of the football field

Get Crazy

After about 3.5 hours of setup I transitioned to my pre-determined role for the celebration – the crazy greeter! About 15-20 volunteers held this first impression position so we had to bring our high energy A-game. As children/families arrived in school buses or vehicles with their parents, we welcomed them to the event.

We were given pom-poms and noise makers. Our goal was to make them feel like rock stars as they walked into the stadium to sit in the bleachers prior to running their final 600 meters (Yes the celebration is called the Final Mile but it would get a bit crazy for all involved to manage multiple loops. Final Mile sounds cool…Final 600 Meters is less so.).

Cowbell and pom-pom....oh yeah!

At various times we created narrow human tunnels, made lots of noise, and delivered more high-5s to nearly every child and adult that passed us.

Based on the epic smiles and positive energy flowing like a 4th of July light show, you couldn’t help but feel like you were making some small positive impact in the children and parents lives…at least for the day.

Running of the Bulls

After the brief opening ceremonies, sections of children/parents were escorted to the staging area where they got ready for the final 600 meter run.

Terry Wade (with the feathery personality) - MC and local volunteer organizer

This is where things get interesting. Think of a group of a hundred or so children bursting at the seams, ready to run down that open track. As the previous group finished their run and ran through the finish chute, the next group was released in a burst of high-energy excitement.

Here comes the next group!

The Bling

After crossing the finish line the children received the highly-prized finisher’s medal. I was told that it is so highly desired, that some children will try and double back to receive a second one.

And Then There Were None

After the last child left the stadium, we cleaned-up the entire area within 90 minutes. The Marathon Kids truck and trailer was packed and ready to head back to Austin before hitting the road for yet another Final Mile celebration.

I was tired, dehydrated, and hungry, but smiled all the way home.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

5 Responses to “Marathon Kids Dallas Final Mile Celebration 2011 Report”

  1. on 31 Mar 2011 at 2:37 pm Marinda

    Thanks for this! We wouldn’t be near as successful without volunteers like you!

  2. on 31 Mar 2011 at 3:40 pm David Hanenburg

    Thanks Marinda!

    I really had a great time helping out.

  3. on 31 Mar 2011 at 3:57 pm Kathy Draper

    Thanks for the update. I want to help promote this program during the next round and my group would probably also like to help volunteer.

  4. on 31 Mar 2011 at 5:48 pm Jill

    What a great report!! We truly appreciate your pre-dawn assistance, followed by hours of cheering. Thanks so much for coming out to volunteer!

  5. on 01 Apr 2011 at 9:06 am David Hanenburg

    Kathy – You’re welcome. Definitely – get involved!

    Jill – Thanks! 🙂 Loved it!