Men's Track and Field motivates Texas children to take track to healthy living
Normally, the Texas men's track and field team arrives at Mike A. Myers Stadium for track and field team practice. The Longhorns stretch, go through conditioning drills, and run laps around the track, as UT and 2008 Beijing Olympic head coach Bubba Thornton advises from the sidelines. On Saturday morning, instead of training as usual, the Longhorns took a backseat to their own exercise routine to cheer on hundreds of Central Texas children racing to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The men's track and field team, with a 2007 roster full of NCAA national champions and All-Americans, joined other UT athletic programs in the Marathon Kids Kick Off Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 15. The event, in its eighth year of existence, marks the beginning of the free fitness and nutrition program for children from kindergarten to fifth-grade in Central Texas.
"I enjoy coming out here and seeing all the young children," said three-time NCAA national champion Donovan Kilmartin. "It's nice to come out, support the children in running and help them understand that they are doing it for a good cause. For us, we're out here every day and we understand that if we work hard, the awards, championships and honors will come. That is good for me, but this is a larger cause. I feel we are helping a tremendous amount of people, so on a grander scale, this is a very good thing to be involved in. It's a great to start to a healthy lifestyle -- to be healthy, eat healthy and do everything you need to do to stay in shape."
UT men's track and field newcomers were also excited to participate in the event for the first time.
"It's a pretty good thing, I really enjoyed being out here today," said freshman Andra Thomas. "The children seem to have a great time as well. I think if I had a program like this, I would have started running earlier in life. I didn't get into track until my freshman year in high school. While I'm blessed to be here now, I can see this involvement would have been great when I was that age."
The free six-month program is presented in the Austin area to public and private school districts, home-schooled children and those attending private schools by Whole Foods Market. The participants total 26.2 miles over the five-month time period, the equivalent of a running a marathon.
After the children complete the run on the track, volunteers hand out water bottles while the UT student-athletes autograph sport posters for each child participant.