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JUST RUN Wraps Up Successful Year Helping Kids Become More Active

(July 11, 2007 - Carmel, CA)  Summer’s in full swing and thanks to a highly successful running and fitness program offered during the past school year, many Monterey County students are running and staying active this season.

In Monterey County 4,300 children, representing 41 schools, participated in JUST RUN®, the youth fitness program developed by the Big Sur International Marathon. Collectively the participants logged 134,000 miles and, as an added program component, completed 11,500 “Just Deeds” focusing on good citizenship. The Big Sur Marathon’s April Schools’ Competition 5K drew 2,200 kids whose schools used the race as a goal for their year-long program, as well as a fundraiser.

“We’re very proud of the inroads we’ve made to reach our county’s school kids,” says Susan Love, JUST RUN program administrator. “JUST RUN was developed by board member Mike Dove to combat childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes while promoting the health and well being of our children and youth. We are committed to its expansion and are motivated by its success and positive impact.” A follow-up evaluation indicated that 96% of the responding children would like to continue the JUST RUN program in the next school year; 89% said they would continue regular running as an activity in the summer; 70% indicated their entire families were influenced to become involved in running and physical activity; and 93% said they are making healthier food choices.

Established three years ago, JUST RUN is already an award-winning program, having earned a Gold Medal from the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In addition, Dove and Love were honored as the “Youth Fitness Contributors of the Year” by Running USA, the sports national trade association.

JUST RUN was recently adopted by the Monterey and Salinas Unified School Districts as the fitness component of their after school programs for the 2007-08 school year; several communities outside of Monterey County are also planning to implement the program. JUST RUN coordinators participate in School Wellness Days organized by HELP (Healthy Eating Lifestyle Principles), where a combined presentation focuses on nutrition, fitness, and planting healthy fruits and vegetables.

JUST RUN is offered free to schools, clubs and organizations choosing to participate. A wealth of information related to training and healthy eating is found on the website; incentives and goal races are provided. The easy-to-use, bi-lingual website also allows students to log miles and to view their group’s progress as they run across the United States in a “virtual run.” Hundreds of locations are web-linked and provide educational information about the sites and landmarks they pass on their journey.

Several local companies currently support JUST RUN, including Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Granite Construction, and KSBW Channel 8. Additional grant funding has been provided by the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Children’s Miracle Network, Saucony, the Carol White Foundation, and the Governor’s Council.

For more information on JUST RUN, visit www.justrun.org or contact Susan Love, program administrator, at 831-625-6226 or susanwlove@sbcglobal.net.