A running start

Most days, it takes a little motivation to get the young runners going. Sometimes it's a run through the sprinklers, sometimes it's a Popsicle.

On this cool late August afternoon, stomachs full of barbecue fare, they just wanted to run.

And run they did.

That puts a smile on the faces of a group of teens supervising the Sequim Boys & Girls Club's own running club, a three-days-a-week group led by Washington state 2A cross country champ Allison Cutting and a crew of teen helpers: high school junior Alex Jenkins, eighth-grader Dylan Chatters and SHS graduate Tori Olsen.

For much of the summer, the teens organize a series of drills, games and activities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

"(It's) just to get kids out there and active and introduce them to the sport," Cutting says. "The nice thing about running is you can do it at any age. It can build so much confidence. It's some thing they can accomplish on their own ... (and) it's good for self-esteem."

Cutting says she generally has the youngsters (ages 6-12) do a running drill to get their heart rates going, do some stretches and then add a fun activity like freeze tag, drip-drip-drop (like duck-duck-goose) or something similar to keep the youths moving.

The running club sometimes takes to the nearby track at Sequim High School, the fields behind Helen Haller Elementary or an occasional trek around the block using Fifth Avenue, Hendrickson Road, Sequim Avenue and Fir Street. Cutting says she hopes to do an exhibition race, possibly at a high school event this fall.

As a treat on particularly hot days, running club participants get to run through a nearby field's sprinklers.

"Every time they (the sprinklers) are on, that's basically what we do," Cutting says. "We try to mix it up."

Mary Budke, unit director at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, led a running club for years and asked Cutting to take it over last year. Cutting agreed, then recruited Jenkins, Chatters and Olsen to help this summer.

Jenkins says the group of running youngsters is as small as four up to more than a dozen.

On this late summer Friday afternoon, Cutting, Jenkins and Chatters put about 16 youngsters through a sprinting drill, then broke up into a game of soccer and finally freeze tag.

Cutting recalls an instance when she overheard a couple of runners say they're the luckiest kids at the club.

"I love running and I love kids," she says.

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