EAGLE RIVER - Imagine yourself running a 5k. Does the thought exhaust you?
Story By Lex Gray
Now imagine running a 5k where you're only about chest-height compared to the rest of the runners.
Dozens of fourth and fifth graders from Northland Pines are up to the challenge.
The "Mission Possible" running club will take on the Journey's Marathon 5k this weekend after seven weeks of training.
"I think I'm ready for it," said fifth grader Brady Snedden.
He's been training with 71 other students from Northland Pines Elementary School.
Teacher Megan Hoffman started Mission Possible last year with just 30 students.
"We just saw some of the kids not veering down the right path," Hoffman said. "[They were] not making the right decisions as far as the foods they were eating and activities they were doing."
That's not an issue for fourth grader Lakken Ludwig.
"I love to run with my friends and I just like to be active," she said.
Ludwig plays soccer, too. But running feels different.
"You can just run and you don't have to worry about anything."
That idea makes running accessible to almost anyone.
"All of the kids can participate," Hoffman said. "Whether they're here to walk or whether they're here to run, they don't really necessarily have to have a special talent. Everyone is welcome."
"I feel good because every night when I go home, my parents are proud of me because I did it and it just makes me feel like I'm always in shape," Ludwig said.
That kind of encouragement is important, but the big payoff is the big race.
"It plays a huge role in our community, to see the kids out there with their families – some of the parents are running, aunts and uncles are running, because [the kids] are running," Hoffman said. "It's just played such a huge impact beyond the school and in the community."
"It's just fun to train for something you know is big and that you want to accomplish," Snedden said.