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Eastbluff kids go all out

About 130 children from the Newport Beach elementary school have been training to compete in Sunday’s run.

March 19, 2010|By Steve Virgen

CORONA DEL MAR — For just over two months, Jack Tucker has been running and training for what will be an important day for him on Sunday.

He wants to represent his school, Eastblutf Elementary, the best he can at the 27th annual Spirit Run, which begins at Fashion Island. The 11-year-old will compete in the 5K (3.1 miles) and the one-mile run.

But as he tries for personal-best times, Jack has also been doing his best to shatter stereotypes of kids his age.

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“I don’t really play much video games,” Jack says. “I also like to mountain bike a lot.”

A lack of fitness has become a problem among youth across the nation. First Lady Michelle Obama has started a program to combat childhood obesity, as rates among children have tripled in the past 30 years, according to her website, letsmove.gov. Childhood obesity threatens the healthy future of one third of American children, according to the website.

At Eastbluff, Diane Daruty formed a run club, Fast Feet, five years ago. A little over two months ago, roughly 130 children in Fast Feet started training for Sunday’s Spirit Run, the big-time fitness event that’s benefiting Newport Beach schools Andersen, Harbor View, Newport Coast, Lincoln and Eastbluff.

“I wanted to teach the kids about setting a goal and achieving a goal,” said Daruty, a Newport Beach resident who is also the chair of the Spirit Run management committee. “I think it’s really important for their health. But I also think it’s really important for their goal-setting.”

Daruty laughed Thursday remembering the first days training with the children. They complained about running a lap around a field at the school, she said. But now they don’t whine at all. They want to run more.

“It’s fun,” she said.

This year Daruty acquired some help with the training, as members of the UC Irvine cross country teams have been directing some of the runs with the children.

During the summer, Daruty saw the UCI athletes as they ran through the Back Bay trails. She asked for help and the athletes wanted to train the children. They’re in track and field season, but they’ve still found time to help. They’ve also brought UCI students to help.

UCI freshmen runners Carlotta Pham and Nicole Mendoza trained the children on Thursday, along with UCI student Zachary Risinger, a freshman.

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