Young runners can now sign up to be ‘Mighty Milers’
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Registration is now open for Grayling Recreation Authority’s K-5 Cross Country Running Club, a program also known as the “Mighty Milers.” The club gives young people an opportunity to learn the sport of cross country – it’s running outdoors on a variety of terrain and elevation – and enjoy a fun run on the Fourth of July to complete the program. The club also helps raise money for the Grayling Middle School and Grayling High School cross country programs.
Samara Hartman, one of the coaches for the Mighty Milers, said she expects another year of strong participation.
“If the past few years are any indication, we can expect between 40 to 50 kids. By holding practices at the elementary/primary building and after the (Extended Learning Year) school day, we might have even more,” Hartman said.
Hartman said the goal of the Mighty Milers program is “to urge young children to enjoy being active, especially through running.”
“It’s an activity they can do their entire lives and it requires no special equipment. When we get the kids out in the woods and on the trails, it isn’t just running; it becomes an experience. Plus, it prepares them for middle and high school cross country, which happens in the fall,” Hartman said.
The program will conduct its practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Grayling Elementary School starting on Tuesday, June 13, and ending on Thursday, June 29.
According to promotional material for the program, the club “will focus on fun exercise and light-hearted competition through team games and activities.” Coaches also teach stretching and other exercises.
“We like to focus on a routine to prepare the kids for injury-free running and confidence,” Hartman said. “We start with a warm-up jog, then move into some static stretching, followed by some dynamic stretching. After that, we play some running games to practice speed and agility. Finally, we hold the ‘long run,’ which can be anywhere from 1/2 mile to 2 miles, depending on the ability of the child. At the end of each day, runners get to cool down with a cool snack.”
The Mighty Milers end their program with Grayling Recreation Authority’s Firecracker 1 Mile Fun Run on the Fourth of July. The run is also open to all, and the event helps raise money for the GHS and GMS cross country programs.
“Fundraising is extremely important to our ability to function as a team. By holding the Mighty Milers Club and the Firecracker Mile Run as fundraisers, we can keep the middle school cross country team free for students. We put that money toward competition entry fees, busing, uniforms, and snacks throughout the season,” Hartman said. “Community support is key, and Grayling has been great to us.”
The Firecracker event also gives the young runners live recognition because it’s held just a few minutes before the start of the Independence Day parade in Grayling, and parade spectators typically cheer on the participants.
“The Firecracker is our last run of the season. It’s kind of like a performance. The course is usually run on the same route as the Fourth of July parade just before it begins, so the community that comes to watch the parade also gets to watch this final run. Parents and other community members are also welcome to register for the race, and we’ve had as many as 100-plus people participate in the past,” Hartman said.
Registration forms for the K-5 Cross Country Running Club are available online at GRA’s website: www.hansonhills.org. The coaches also plan to distribute forms to students at the Grayling Elementary School “in late May, early June,” Hartman said.
Mighty Milers can also register by contacting Hartman via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.