800 Tacoma students get Fit for Sound to Narrows
The 45th annual Sound to Narrows is coming up June 10. Register today.
This year you might notice a lot more kids lining up for the 2k Junior Shuffle at Sound to Narrows. That’s thanks to a pilot program called Fit for Sound to Narrows, inspired in part by Fit for Bloomsday, which gets hundreds of kids involved in Spokane’s famous race day.
Fit for Sound to Narrows is a new eight-week program encouraging students in grades K–5 to lead healthy, active lives. It began April 10 and culminates on Sound to Narrows race day Saturday, June 10.
Eight hundred students are signed up and roughly 450 will be racing on June 10 — 10+ will be running the 12k race, 120+ are running the 5k and 350+ are running the 2k Junior Shuffle.
Tacoma runner Sam Ring saw the success of Spokane’s Fit for Bloomsday program and thought, why not here?
Ring is a living legend in Tacoma’s running scene. He won the inaugural Sound to Narrows in 1973 and has raced the 12k every year since. Heavily involved in the running community in Tacoma and beyond, Ring is friends with the race director over at Bloomsday.
After hearing more about their Fit for Bloomsday program and seeing it in action, Ring knew Sound to Narrows would be the perfect way to get kids involved in running, racing and the healthy running community here in Tacoma.
He tapped Tacoma City Running Club (where he stands on the board), the Tacoma School District and MultiCare’s Sound to Narrows. Fit for Sound to Narrows launched this April. The program is in pilot mode, rolled out to the Tacoma School District, with plans to grow it each year.
The goal of Fit for Sound to Narrow is to introduce kids to healthy habits, encourage them to set and complete goals and inspire them to lead active lives and form healthy relationships with their bodies.
Ultimately this will help children avoid certain diseases (mental and physical) through the power of movement. Running seems so simple, but introducing kids to the power of their own bodies is profound.
How it works
The Fit for Sound to Narrows training plan is a hybrid of Fit for Bloomsday and other successful kids’ programs from across the country, combined with the expertise of the Tacoma City Running Club’s coaches.
At a minimum, the students meet twice a week, whether during lunch or after school, and then were encouraged to train an additional two days on their own.
We talked to Kurt Shevalier, who heads up the Fit for Sound to Narrows program at Whitman Elementary School in Tacoma. His program has 50 kids, grades K–5, who meet on Mondays after school and Wednesdays and Fridays during recess to run. Each Monday, students are given a seven-day training log for the week.
Shevalier explains that any activity, whether “riding a skateboard, chasing the dog around the block or roller skating” can be counted on the log. If kids were active, logged it and brought the log back the following Monday, they received a small prize.
He estimates that more than half of his students trained four days a week, though he admits the biggest challenge was kids remembering to bring the log back on Monday.
Shevalier himself is a seasoned runner, racing the Sound to Narrows 23 times and only missing years because of active military deployment.
When we asked what he hopes to pass on to kids through Fit for Sound to Narrows, Shevalier says: “The ability to push yourself. The achievement to finish the race. You’re always grumbling during the race … but at the end you have that accomplishment.”
We’re guessing the kids in his program are leaving inspired and ready to tackle their race.
So far, so good in first year
Overall, this inaugural year has been a great success. Shevalier explained that the biggest challenges are consistent with any non-school sponsored event: getting the kids there.
“At the K–5 level we’re dependent on families,” Shevalier says. “I have kids that want to do it, but they ride the bus home. They can’t come to Monday night practice. The challenge and goal is to get the doors open to them, to make it possible.”
Shoes are another challenge. Students often forget to bring them, so Kurt has a big tub of running shoes they can dig a pair out of.
“They want to do it, we just need to get the doors open,” he says.
Countdown to race day + promo code
Be sure to cheer on these kids Saturday, June 10! Get your own family involved by signing up for Sound to Narrows.
In honor of Global Running Day today, use code RUNS2N for $5 off registration.
Plus, get outside and go on a Sound to Narrows shines hunt! Follow @soundtonarrows on Instagram and #runs2n for hiding hints and race day information.
About The Author
Sarah Robinson is a runner, mom, brand storyteller and writer living and training in Tacoma. She has been running and racing for over 20 years and was a 2016 Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon with a PR of 2:42:36. She has raced and won Sound to Narrows once, and remembers it as one of the toughest (and most fun) courses she’s raced.More stories by this author