AIKEN --- When Lori Comshaw moved to Aiken from the Northwest with her family two years ago, the avid marathoner found that the city did not have a running program for youths.
She decided to create a program to give kids a chance to become marathon runners.
"I was very active in my running community in Washington state, called the Three Rivers Road Runners Club," she said. "And they started a kids running program."
Ms. Comshaw's children, who were ages 6, 5 and 3, participated in the community's marathon for children.
"When we moved here, there wasn't a kids' marathon, and all this information was coming out about childhood obesity and the state of affairs our children are in," she said. "I figured starting one here would not only benefit my kids and my particular lifestyle, it would help the community."
The Aiken Parks and Recreation Department's two-month running program challenges children from kindergarten through fifth grade to run a mile a day, and up to five miles a week, from Aug. 22 to Oct. 25.
On the last day, a grand finale run -- 1.2 miles -- will be held at the H. Odell Weeks Activity Center track, bringing the total miles run over the two months to 26.2 -- equal to a marathon.
The program is a way of "making exercise fun and rewarding versus some kind of chore they have to do," Ms. Comshaw said. "Let's make it fun and set some short-term goals and some long-term goals."
Wearing a race number and a marathon T-shirt, the children will "run the last 1.2 miles all together," Ms. Comshaw said, adding that when the runners cross the finish line, they'll receive a medal.
"I really feel that if you give the kids the opportunity and the venue that they'll step up to the plate, and they can do it," she said. "Just give them a chance."
Anyone interested in the Kids' Marathon may register at the Weeks Center or call (803) 642-7631 to receive a log sheet and additional information.
Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org.