Selkirk gym teacher Terry Johnston wants to see more VSB schools getting involved in the Vancouver Sun Run. That's because he's seen the huge benefits of a robust running squad in his own school.
Selkirk's Sun Run club boasts an impressive participation rate. It has roughly 93 students involved and has such a large team that it won a prize in the latest Vancouver Sun Run of $600 for the largest elementary school running team.
While Johnston says the race day is important, it's the training leading up to it that's particularly crucial for his kids. Each week Sun Run team members are required to attend at least two of the daily running practices put on by the school's five coaches.
"The Sun Run really attracts other kids who won't be on the big teams," he says. " It gives them a great opportunity to be involved in school sports. At Selkirk, if you do the training, you are in."
But getting in and maintaining the practice schedule isn't easy. Indeed, it can be a slog for some of his less athletic students.
"Sometimes we are running for up to an hour," says Johnston. "We will run 7-8 km. But their transformation over the course of the practice season is phenomenal."
Two weeks before the race, Johnston and his other coaches took the students on a seawall run to get them prepared for the big run. It was a highlight for many of the students, says the running coach. It was also a great dress-rehearsal for the longer Sun Run.
When the big day arrived, Johnston says he only saw 10 of his kids while running the race next to one of his Grade 4 students (coach and student equally motivated each other) - a testament to the varied speeds of the Selkirk team.
Selkirk VP Doug Roch says Johnston's commitment to physical education at Selkirk isn't just limited to the Sun Run.
"He is the heart of physical activity and sport at Selkirk," he says. "Terry is a PE teacher and he runs just a multitude of extra-curricular programs. He works lunch hours. Does badminton, volleyball, soccer, and coordinates just about everything."