1,200 take part in PTA 5K to benefit Lexington schools

About 1,200 people signed up for the PTA 5K, Oct. 21 at Lexington's Coldstream Park.  
Photo by Matt Goins
About 1,200 people signed up for the PTA 5K, Oct. 21 at Lexington's Coldstream Park. Photo by Matt Goins Herald-Leader

Connor McLay ran up to congratulate his twin sister, Molly, as she finished Lexington's PTA 5K on Sunday.

The 10-year-olds ran the race with their mother, Carol McLay. Connor just started training six weeks ago, but he finished before his mother and sister and was waiting for the duo at the finish.

"He's already faster than I am, and I have been running for 20 years," Carol McLay said at the second annual event at Coldstream Park in Lexington.

Molly is no slouch, either. She came in first for her age group last year, said her mother, who has traditionally viewed running as a way to maintain her weight. Now, it's a way to spend time with her twins and raise money for many of Fayette County's public schools.

"It's great to be able to run together," McLay said.

It's not yet known how much money this year's PTA 5K raised for the 38 public schools that participated from among the district's 51. Last year, the event raised $10,000, said Liza Holland, president of the 16th District PTA.

With attendance up this year, it's likely that the event will top the $10,000 mark, she said. Last year, about 750 people took part. On Sunday, about 1,200 people participated in two events, a one-mile fun run and a 5K (about 3.1 miles).

Thanks to some generous sponsors, all the money raised through entry fees will be returned to the participating schools, Holland said. The more students and staff from a school that participate in the event, the more money the school will get, Holland said.

This year, participating schools had a kids marathon program that encouraged students to run a total of 26.2 miles in the weeks leading up to Sunday's event. The final mile of the marathon program could be completed at Sunday's event. Holland said 366 children participated in the program.

In addition, the schools offered a couch-to-5K training program for participants through the YMCA, LexRunLadies running club and the University of Kentucky department of kinesiology and health promotion. Holland said more than 100 people participated in the training program, which was open to anyone.

Joshua Combs, 9, who attends Tates Creek Elementary School, completed his 26.2-mile kids marathon at Sunday's event. He and his mother, Ann Combs, ran in the 5K, while his father, Mark Combs, and 6-year-old brother, Daniel, completed the fun run.

"I knocked about five minutes off my time," Joshua said as the family gathered for photos at the finish line.

Ann Combs said the marathon program had been a boon for the whole family.

"When they get home from school, we go out and run a mile every night," Combs said.

Many PTA groups are moving toward 5K and other athletic activities as a way to raise much-needed cash and awareness about healthful lifestyles.

"Studies show that if kids are healthy and active, they do better in school," Holland said.

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