Running club at Coquihalla Elementary School

Over a third of Grade 4 students have already joined the program

Over a third of Coquihalla Elementary School’s Grade 4 students are currently involved in the twice-weekly lunch hour running club

After six years of spreading the seeds of running and physical fitness around town, the C. E. Barry running program has taken root at Coquihalla Elementary School.

Christine Carman, who taught at C.E. Barry last year, is heading the lunch hour program at her new school — and she has about 20 regular runners from the two Grade 4 classes.

That’s over a third of all Grade 4 students taking part in the Wednesday and Friday run club.

“The kids are really enthusiastic,” said Carman on Tuesday. “And the weather has been awesome, so far… not even a drop of rain yet.”

Carman took part in C.E. Barry’s learn-to-run program last spring, running at lunchtime and doing her own training near her home in Chilliwack on the weekends — then participating with the school’s Team Fit entry in the Sun Run 10 km run in Vancouver.

“I’m going to promote the Sun Run club with these kids,” said Carman. “It’s a good way to connect the two schools — and it should help with the students’ transition to C.E. Barry next year.”

Meanwhile, C. E. Barry’s Team Fit organizer, Pauline Johnson said they have about 12 regular runners in their lunchtime program. The school’s secretary, Miranda Cowan, Johnson, Kim Hollmann and Carman’s husband Tyson Slack head out with the kids on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“In poor weather, we’ll stay inside and incorporate our Fit Club,” said Johnson. “We have about 15 to 20 minutes of workout videos, with dance, zumba and kick-boxing moves.”

At both schools, they run on empty stomachs and eat after. Both use the learn-to-run program provided by SportMed BC, which is the basis of the Sun Run program. Currently, the Coquihalla group is at the “run two minutes, walk one minute” stage — though Carman plans to eventually have them all running for 10 minutes straight.

Coquihalla’s vice-principal, Peter Flynn, has also jumped on the running bandwagon with the lunchtime group — after breaking his leg in a hiking mishap last spring.

“It’s really fun!” he enthused. “We’ve got some talented runners this year, too.

“I did a lot of running and hiking in the summer and my leg is feeling stronger than the other one now.

“Christine is doing a great job of having us do our dynamic stretches before the run and static stretches after,” he added.

Currently, the Coquihalla group is running the 1.91 km route used for the school’s annual Terry Fox run. Carman said she’d like to see them extend it an extra few blocks by running right to Wardle Street before turning back to the school. That should still have them finishing their activity in around 20 minutes.

With some runners chomping at the bit to push ahead and others struggling to get in a full two minutes of running, Carman is using the looping technique recommended by SportMed BC. Without it, the group would be stretched apart and hard to supervise.

“Once the lead runners have gotten far enough ahead that they’re going to make a turn, I yell ‘loop!’ and they come back and high-five all the others as they pass us, while they’re running to the back end of the pack,” said Carman.

“After about 30 seconds, they’re up at the front again.”

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