While some might like to run like the wind, in this house, my children like to run with the rabbits.
What started with a race Wayne Armstrong and Lynda Barcom held in the parking lot at Birchwood Elementary back in 1987, has not only kept its momentum but has proven year after year, that this is a race many elementary school-aged children get excited about.
Thursday, September 28, 2017, approximately 800 children showed up to what has become the Beach Lake Area Trails Cross Country Running Jamboree not because they want to win but because they want to be there. (Ok, some are there to win.)
Imagine yourself at age 5. A super proud kindergartener who has recently just earned big kid status. You know you are going to “win” a medal, a medal you will most likely wear to school the next day, no matter what place you earn. You line up at the start line with a group of almost 100 other kindergartners. On the other side of start line is a large group of super happy and friendly teenagers wearing rabbit-like features who lead you through warm-up exercises while you bounce along to one of your favorite songs blaring over the sound system. The announcer, (yes, you have an announcer!), calls out the start over the microphone and you’re off and running, young children and teenagers together, to get through the 1.2 km course.
Even 5th and 6th graders, now running 2.1 km, still get caught up in the energy this event creates. I have seen it happen many times where older children who come along to the Jamboree with their younger siblings thinking they have outgrown this event, only to see them on the starting line with an adventurous look in their eye, ready to race.
Co-founder Wayne Armstrong said in Facebook conversation, “Great memories of a wonderful community event still enjoyed by so many children and parents coming together each year! A highlight of my PE teaching years at Birchwood ABC and being a part of our Eagle River/Chugiak community.”
Events that become favorites over time seem to embody certain character traits that the Jamboree nails on the head. My family has attended this event for the last eight years. We look forward to this event every year. Being experienced Jamboree participants, I am looking forward to the years the most where my older children will be able to be the rabbits for the younger children.
Many thanks to CHS and ERHS cross-country running teams for warming the runner’s up and acting as rabbits and running with the kids. The ERHS Wrestling team for running with the kids. ROTC’s from CHS and ERHS as the Color Guard, trail monitoring, and parking assistance. Bob Stehn with Chugiak Eagle River Nordic Ski Club for his help with setup and trails. CHS for hosting the event. All of the Chugiak Eagle River Physical Education teachers and staff who help at the event. Caela Nielsen at Ravenwood Elementary and Chris Ruggles at Eagle River Elementary, both physical Education teachers, were co-coordinators of this event.
Nicole Mercer has lived Alaska for 12 years. She explores nature enthusiastically and seeks out delicious new adventures around every corner. To reach Nicole, email: [email protected]