EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 4, 2013

Hampstead students complete marathon

Students complete a different kind of marathon

By Alex Lippa

---- — HAMPSTEAD — It took a few months, but Hampstead Middle School students completed a marathon yesterday.

About 200 students ran a mile around the school on “Marathon Monday,” to signify the students accumulating 26.2 miles of running or other physical activity.

“The students have been tracking how much they have run since the beginning of school,” health/physical education teacher Katie Muskrat said. “Most had done 25.2 miles, but some have far exceeded that.”

The program was done in conjunction with the Manchester City Marathon, held Sunday.

“We’ve partnered with them as a school to prevent against childhood obesity,” Muskrat said.

The students have run close to 4,500 miles since the beginning of the school year.

The school piloted the program last year, with just a few students. But this year, they were picked by the Manchester City Marathon organizers to be the only school in New Hampshire to have the program.

“We were very excited to get picked,” Muskrat said. “Now, we hope to show other schools what a great program this is and hopefully they will participate with us next year.”

Students kept a spreadsheet online, which tracked each mile they ran. Students also got credit for playing sports and for physical education classes.

“One hour of any physical activity, whether it’s riding a bike or playing sports, counts as one mile,” Muskrat said.

But while sports counted when tracking miles, the program was specifically focused on lifelong fitness.

“We want to get them involved at an early age with activities like running or walking that they can keep doing during their entire lives,” Muskrat said.

The program also included a math and computer component to help students improve their skills.

“The kids kept a Google Docs spreadsheet and they used QR codes to make it easy to get to the tracking form,” Muskrat said. “The students also used equations to help calculate just how much they ran. It kind of ties a lot of things together.”

Muskrat said nearly half the students at school participated in the program.

“It’s a pretty cool way to stay fit,” eighth-grader Noah Woodman said. “No matter what people’s strengths are when it comes to running, they are able to complete this.”

Noah said he ended up finishing much more than the 26.2 miles required.

“I played on the soccer team this year, so with all the practices and games, that ends up being a lot,” he said.

Students completed the mile yesterday in about 10 minutes. As they crossed the finish line, they received medals from superintendent Earl Metzler and assistant superintendent Roxanne Wilson.

“It was a really fun event,” eighth-grader Jason Burke said. “It was cool to see everyone running together as a school.”