PTA 5K helps families improve health, Lexington schools raise money

The Rowe family — Jenn, left, and Mark, and their girls Madi, 10, right; Anna, 8; and Gabi, 6 months — went running in their Stonewall neighborhood to train for the upcoming PTA 5K.
The Rowe family — Jenn, left, and Mark, and their girls Madi, 10, right; Anna, 8; and Gabi, 6 months — went running in their Stonewall neighborhood to train for the upcoming PTA 5K. Lexington Herald-Leader

With her dark pigtailed hair damp from both a light misting rain and sweat from a good run, Sophia Goodin declared to anyone who would listen that she and her friends have a problem.

"We can't stop," she said, earnestly.

"Can't stop, we just want to keep going," said Madi Rowe, 10.

"It's a problem," said Madi's little sister, Anna Rowe, 8, nodding her head.

As they have every week since late August, the girls had just finished a 5K training class, taking a run around Beaumont Circle with their parents and a trainer.

The girls and their families are preparing to take part in Fayette County's second PTA 5K. The goal is to get families moving together and help people who have never run a 5K work up to completing the course, said Sarah Ashley Solie, one of the organizers.

The Oct. 21 event presents a classic win-win. By participating, families and kids improve their health and raise money for their schools to help improve student health. Last year, public schools in Fayette County that participated in the run by helping students log miles or sending volunteers to help with the event split $10,000. Solie's home school, Stonewall Elementary, received $2,000 for health and wellness programs.

Last year, about 800 people, including 365 students, took part in the PTA 5K. Solie thinks the final total this year will be double that. Thirty-eight of Fayette County's 51 public schools will be taking part, she said.

Solie got the idea to bring the event to Lexington after her daughter, Elizabeth, 9, took part in a run in Nashville.

Younger children may participate in the kids' marathon, in which they keep track of the miles they walk and run in the weeks before the 5K to reach a total of 26.2 miles, the distance of a marathon. Students are encouraged to do the final mile during the fun run on the same day as the 5K. Each finisher receives a medal.

Solie said gym teachers at some schools are helping students get in their marathon miles.

At Madi and Anna's home, a running tally of the family's miles is kept in the kitchen. The girls are running the kids' marathon, while their parents, Mark and Jennifer Rowe, will take on the 5K. (The youngest Rowe, Gabi, is 6 months old, so she hasn't put in any miles yet.)

The girls like running with their dad, a former college football player who had let exercise fall out of his schedule over the years. Before the weekly class, he had tried running on his own. But, he said, he inevitably overdid it, hurt himself and ended up back on the couch. He said his kids have always been active and involved in sports, and he's glad to be out there doing something together. The family and some neighbors also have taken to running their neighborhood.

Solie said this is the first year that the 5K training was offered, and about 100 people signed up. Members of the LexRunLadies running club are acting as coaches and mentors with trainers from the YMCA. One group meets Mondays at the Beaumont Centre Family YMCA, while another meets Sundays at the North Lexington Family YMCA.

They start by running and walking in intervals over the weeks in hopes of later running the full 5K.

Members of the University of Kentucky department of kinesiology and health promotion worked with the YMCA trainers to create the program and are using willing participants to do research on its effectiveness.

Sophie and Madi also participate in another running program, Girls on the Run. Their friends, they said, think it's cool that they like to run and seem impressed that they've already finished their miles for the kids' marathon.

"My friends are like, 'You did all that?'" Madi said.