Twenty years ago, Nick Arciniaga, an elite marathoner, was a quiet kid in my fourth-grade class. Recently, Nick told me he remembered winning a relay race in physical education class that year and thinking, "I can do this."
At Monday's Boston Marathon, Nick crossed the finish line at two hours, 11 minutes, maintaining his place among the top 10 marathoners in the country.
The OC Marathon children's program, Kids Run the OC (KROC), offers 6,500 children the opportunity to be the next Nick Arciniaga. Teachers and volunteers give thousands of hours to lead kindergarten to eighth-grade students in a 12-week curriculum of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Over the weeks, kids accumulate 26.2 miles, culminating in their final mile on Event Day, May 3. To celebrate, families join racers for a finish-line festival.