City streets await 39th annual Get Fit Jog stampede

City streets await 39th annual Get Fit Jog stampede
Posted on 04/27/2017
Kneeling on Turner Elementary's brand-new track, third grader Julian Sanchez (left) and fourth grader Athena Velez logged over 200 miles this school year in preparing themselves for Saturday's 39th annual Get Fit Jog.

It's hard to picture a child doing so many laps on a track or running laps in a gym that it equals to over 200 miles.

If one put that distance on a Texas map, it would get you pretty close to San Antonio and Dallas. It would deposit you deep into Louisiana.

For Turner Elementary School fourth grader Athena Velez and third grader Julian Sanchez, they have traveled to Louisiana and they have nearly been to San Antonio all while the pair have done it without leaving Turner's campus.


The two are believed to be the only Pasadena ISD students who have logged in excess of 200 miles in preparation for Saturday's 39th annual Get Fit Jog.

Velez, who captured 28th place in her GFJ debut last year, and Sanchez only needed to log 40 miles in order to qualify for GFJ, but the duo went above and beyond the call of duty as have dozens of other children at the many campuses, logging over 100 miles because they simply enjoy getting out and lacing up their pair of running shoes.


Now the streets of Dabney, Cherrybrook, Wichita, Primrose and Gruenwald will again be filled with the sights of green, red, Navy blue and burnt orange T-shirts as the third through sixth graders pound the pavement, telling everyone in the city how important physical exercise is in a child's life, a habit that can and needs to continue well into their adult years.

Turner Elementary has long been one of the exemplary schools when it comes to GFJ race directors announcing the Most Participants Trophy but now Turner has added a big weapon in the battle to keep children slim and trim. Back in the fall, the school announced the completion of an oval track. Completing six laps on the track equals one mile.


The track formed an easy boost to assist physically-active kids with their intent to pile on the miles since the 2016-2017 school year started. But the new track and the school's "Monday Mile Meet" wasn't going to work unless the child's most important coach - their moms and dads or family in general didn't emphasize the need to get to the school and get in the miles.

For Velez and Sanchez, they received all that.

"They wanted it but they have the support of their families. They had mom, dad that brought them to every first Monday of the Month. They would stay for the full hour, they pushed themselves the whole time. Both of them got in four, five miles during that one hour," Turner Elementary P.E. teacher Jackie Caver said.

But to reach such a plateau as 200 miles, there's additional running in the gym. But for all of the school district's children, they can compete in 5K races, the Lions Club's Walk For Sight, the recently-held Rugged Race, those kind of sporting events can add to a child's mileage.

The excitement of seeing five city streets overrun by pint-size athletes underscores a very serious topic and that's the rising obesity rate in America's children. Fifty years ago, the problem of overweight children was considered nonsense. But sedentary lifestyles coupled with the million pizza places, the trillion fast-food restaurants, the sugary soda pops have done their part to make America's children fatter.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that one in three American children who were born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Other ailments such as asthma, gallstones, heart disease, high blood pressure and liver problems are all considered obesity-related chronic diseases.

Yes, there are treatment options for overweight children, but prevention is the key to combating childhood obesity, now considered on the threshold to an epidemic.

Caver said Turner will be pushing back against that epidemic with its registered tally of 159 children who are eligible to toe the starting line for the third and fourth-grade races. Turner's numbers slowly creep up every year. In 2013, it had 131 registered and 104 attended, earning the school that year the Most Participants Trophy, followed by Red Bluff.

For the middle schools, all will be chasing the Keller Rangers. But Carter Lomax P.E. teacher Andy Williams insists their day is coming.

Every edition of GFJ brings the curtain down on someone's outstanding four-year career. In 2016, we saw Zaire Walker end his career in which he captured three first-place titles and one second place. His one "blemish" arrived in 2014 when he was in the fourth grade.

Then there's the upsets and GFJ had a sweet one on the girls' side last year. No one suspected that Madison Filberth, after finishing in 32nd place in 2015, would ever be a threat to capture first place. But she made the huge jump from 32nd to first place in ending her GFJ career in dramatic fashion.

GFJ NOTES: This is the 10th anniversary to Teague Elementary capturing first place, followed by DeZavala and Turner in third. In 2007, there was still no sixth-grade division like there is today ...GFJ coordinator Pam Tevis said members of the Pasadena Police Department's bike patrol will be taking part for the first time ever on Saturday. Of course, the cops on motorcycles will be leading the way, followed by the traditional "rabbits."