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Lehigh Valley Road Runners Kids Running Series just for the health of it

Sometimes you just have to stand back and salute the joy in activity.

The annual Saturday kids run that was part of the St. Luke's Half Marathon last month is one of those times, when you see youngsters barely out of the toddler stage ambling down Hamilton Boulevard with a crowd of high schoolers and adults cheering them on.

The smiles those young competitors bring to your face are nothing compared to the joy the youngsters feel within, and that joy translates to self-esteem and, hopefully, a healthy lifestyle.

This Saturday in the Little Lehigh Parkway, the Lehigh Valley Road Runners, along with presenting sponsor Olympus, kick off the LVRR Olympus Kids 2014 Running Series to promote a healthy lifestyle while educating children about the sport of cross country running.

This is the 15th year for the annual series for children ages 3-14.

"When we started this series, we had about 60 kids per run," explained Loretta Dodson, one of the board members of LVRR and the cross country coach at Parkland High School, who is also an accomplished runner. "Last year, we were averaging about 400 kids for each event, and we're hoping to grow on that this year."

Run dates are all on Saturdays: May 17, June 14, July 5, July 19 and Aug. 2. Check-in runs 8:45-9:30 a.m., with the racing starting at 9:45 in various age groups.

"We offer times and overall awards for the older kids," Dodson said, "but our main purpose is for the kids to see improvement in themselves from the May event to the August event."

The 3-4 age group runs one-eighth of a mile and the increments grow until the 13-14 group runs two miles. Both Olympus and Victaulic will be offering surprises at each event.

There is no entry fee, but parents must sign a waiver for their children to take part, and the three-year-old minimum age is not negotiable.

All finishers receive ribbons at each event, and medals are awarded in August. If a child completes at least four of the six events, they receive a free T-shirt. In addition, the June 14 event features a Health & Safety Expo, and there is a T-shirt design and slogan contest, along with two pair of shoes raffled off at each event courtesy of Emmaus Run Inn.

The races take place along the grass and cinder bridle path near the LVRR Clubhouse in the Parkway next to the pedestrian bridge, which is the second bridge after entering the Parkway from South 15th Street in Allentown.

There will be extra traffic along the road in the Parkway this weekend because of the trout fishing contest taking place.

Teaching children the joys of a healthy, active lifestyle is important for their growth and teaching them personal responsibility and accountability in life. Studies show that healthier people tend to be more productive, happy and willing to give back to the community. The LVRR Olympus Kids 2014 Running Series certainly fits that bill.

You can complete online registry or download and pre-fill a form by going online to http://www.raceit.com//register/?event=25550.

The Morning Call 5K: Join the fun for The Morning Call's 16th annual 5K Walk/Run to benefit the United Way in the Little Lehigh Parkway. This one takes place Sunday, June 8. Registration deadline is May 30. Anyone who registers by May 22 will receive a free T-shirt. To register, contact Mary Diehl at 610-820-6731 or Sharon Repsher at 610-820-6718.

Try the Track this Sunday: The 2014 World Series of Bicycling international professional racing series at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown doesn't begin until Friday, June 6, but there is plenty of other action going on at the track in the meantime.

Once again, the velodrome is offering its Try the Track program, this year on Sundays May 18, June 22 and Aug. 24. Cost of the introductory program for people 12-and-older (that includes adults and senior citizens) is $75, which includes use of a loaner track bike and professional coaching.

You must bring your own helmet, and you can bring your own road shoes and pedals if you wish, as well as your own track bike.

The four-hour clinics feature an hour on bike fit and introduction to the track, with the final three hours featuring actual on-track experience.

To register, go online to https://www.bikereg.com/2014-try-the-track-program .

gary.blockus@mcall.com

Twitter @gblockus

610-820-6782

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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