Mile Matters with J&A Racing
We asked our ambassador, Stephanie Quiney, to tell us about her experience as a coach for her school’s Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile. She may be gushing about her student runners, but everything she says is about every runner. No matter the age, running has a way of connecting us all!
The Shamrock Marathon is well known for its Half and Full Marathon; however, the real excitement starts on Saturday with the youth events. The Leprechaun Dash kicks off after the 8K. This run is for children from 6 months to 5 years. They run 26.2 yards! It is the cutest race you will ever spectate. However, my favorite event is the Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile. The Final Mile draws 5,000 children from across Coastal Virginia. It is the second largest mile race in the United States! And it is a youth race! Students grades Kindergarten through Fifth Grade log 25.2 miles and run their ‘final mile’ on race day. The mini marathoners cross the same finish line as the Shamrock Marathon.
Many students also commit to raising money for the title charity, Operation Smile, a nonprofit that provides treatment to children around the world suffering with a cleft lip or cleft palate.
As a teacher, the Final Mile is key in building community within my school. Every Wednesday, our Run Club meets at 7 AM. Students of all abilities show up to run, jog or walk their miles. I often marvel at my group. When everyone is running, one can’t discern between high achieving students and those struggling to make a grade. Labels are irrelevant. All abilities are accepted. In Run Club, all students are runners. They are linked by a common goal of friendship and fitness. And each child is cheered on for showing up and giving it his or her all.
My school will be one of the 100 represented at the Final Mile on March 21, 2020. Even though this will be my fourth year serving as a ‘coach,’ my feelings while standing on the starting line will remain. I will hold back tears as I witness the children bubbling over with excitement and feel a sense of pride for every child that has the courage to start. Some of my runners will crush their mile. Some will run/walk. And others will hold hands until they cross the finish line.
Stephanie Quiney is a Chesapeake Teacher and Mommy. You can find her cheering on her friends and family at all J&A Racing events. Stop by and say ‘hi’ to at the J&A Racing Hub during Shamrock Marathon Expo.