WE RUN THIS CITY
YOUTH MARATHON PROGRAM
About the Program
The We Run This City Youth Marathon Program (WRTC) is a collaboration between the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, the Cleveland Department of Public Health and Case Western Reserve University Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods.
The 14-week program strives to teach young people to set and achieve goals by preparing them to run in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.
But crossing the finish line is just the beginning! Students leave the program with greater self-confidence and increased levels of fitness and endurance.
WRTC is a 12 to 16 week program. Individual teams are formed at schools and are led by teachers or volunteer coaches and assisted by YMCA coaches. The teachers/ coaches are responsible for scheduling practices, submitting all paperwork and ensuring that their teams attend pre-race
events (kickoff, conditioning clinic and practice races – 10k teams only). WRTC offers the students a training schedule (which includes a nutrition component) that allows them to cover the distances necessary to be prepared to run in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. A WRTC student does not have to be an athlete to participate in this program. Our goal for each student is completion rather than competition.
Forming a Team
Individual teams are formed at schools and community centers and are led by teachers or volunteer coaches and assisted by YMCA coaches and peer mentors.
Optimally, each team should have 15 to 30 participants. The teachers/coaches are responsible for scheduling practices, submitting all paperwork and ensuring that their teams attend pre-race events.
A Marathon program student does not have to be an athlete to become a participant in this program. Our goal for each student is completion rather than competition.
History and Mission
The mission of We Run This City Youth Marathon Program is to encourage healthy habits and exercise in Cleveland’s young people. With our running programs, we strive to teach young people to set and achieve goals, increasing their selfconfidence as well as their fitness and endurance. Crossing the finish line is just the beginning!
We Run This City Youth Marathon Program was launched in 2006 with 81, 6th through 8th grade runners from seven Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools. The program nearlydoubled in 2007 to 192 participants, including participation of one high school. Other changes to the program in 2007 included the addition of a team of 10K runners.
In 2008 WRTC expanded training options to add the half marathon and a change in venue for race day events. Previously the students were housed at the downtown YMCA before the race began, where they picked up their t-shirts, signed poster-sized thank you cards, posed for group pictures and listened to motivational speakers. Due to the increase in numbers, the staging area was moved to CSU Woodling Gymnasium (a move made possible by a generous donation from the Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Department at CSU).
The big news in 2009 was the decision by CNN to cover the WRTC program as a Fit Nation feature. The program was treated to coverage by a CNN crew both on race day and the night before. CNN in partnership with the Y-USA, replicated parts of the program in other YMCA markets: San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Chicago and Seattle.
During the 2010-11 program year there were 871 students recruited and 550 students from 35 schools that crossed the finish line of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on May 15, 2011. Of the 550 that crossed the finish line 25 completed the half marathon, 106 ran the 10k, 414 completed the 1.2 mile run and for the first time we had one student complete the full marathon.
Just The Facts
Community Benefit and Outcomes
We Run This City students participate in a pre-race evaluation in January right before training starts and a post race evaluation after the race in late May. The evaluation measures changes in physical measurements (i.e., BMI, body composition, and blood pressure), changes in fitness measurements (PACER and Sit to Stand test for speed and endurance), as well as self-reported attitudes, intentions and behaviors (i.e, recreational choices, intentions to be active, physical fitness competency) and school related outcomes, such as school attachment, grades and attendance.
Students in 2010 were found to show significant improvements in performance on the Sit to Stand test (a test of lower body strength and balance) and the PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Run). There has been a significant reduction in blood pressure in students found to be pre-hypertensive and hypertensive.
Volunteers are the heart of the Marathon program's mission. They are involved in every aspect of the program from initial recruitment to screenings to trainings and race-day coordination.
Some of the many volunteer opportunities available include the following:
Involves going to the schools two times a month for practices with the kids and encouraging them to keep working hard.
Assist teachers in all aspects in preparation for race day. You will work with a teacher at a Cleveland school and directly with students.
Registration on Race Day
Getting all the students checked in and making sure they are ready to run.
T-Shirt & Goody bags distribution
Distributing water to all marathon runner and youth runners.
Runners, Pacers, Sweepers
Running with and encouraging the youth marathon runners.
Keep students on the race route by giving proper directions.
3-4 hour shifts at various locations along the marathon route. You will be encouraging the Marathon runners and the students to keep doing their best.
- Cheering (holding signs)
- Drum corp bands
3-4 hour shifts at various locations along the marathon route.
3-4 hour shifts at the finish line of the race including Medal Distribution to the runners.
To volunteer for any of these jobs, please download and fill out the following forms and send them to The Greater Cleveland YMCA, Marathon Program, 2200 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115. You can also fax all forms to 216-263-6299, or email all forms in PDF format to Carla Turner.
Students do not pay to participate in the program. The shoes, T-shirts, medals and race fees are free to every participant. Program staff undertake continued fundraising efforts to fully support the students. Fortunately, the corporate and private philanthropic communities in Cleveland recognize the value of We Run This City Youth Marathon Program and generously support it.
With generous contributions from the Mt. Sinai Foundation, St. Luke’s Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser, REACH and the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, WRTC is able to provide programming for 900 Cleveland students.
In addition to the cash contributions WRTC is supported by many local organizations that provide in-kind donations to the program.
If you are interested in sponsoring a school or providing funds or in kind donations to help this program continue to grow, expand and provide a high quality experience for participating youth, please contact Carla Turner.