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Posted: March 14, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Athletics: Olympians, Athletic Greats Will Inspire And Motivate At Lifelong Fitness Alliance Dare To Be Fit Runs/Walk

PALO ALTO, Calif. - March 13, 2009 - Olympians, fitness motivators, and inspiring professional athletes will be on hand to motivate and mentor participants of all ages at the 2009 Lifelong Fitness Alliance Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk on Sunday, March 22 at Stanford University. Two 5-kilometer runs (3.1 miles), a variable distance community fitness walk of one to five kilometers, a health and food fair, and athletics clinics for children offer fun for the entire family. Event "central" is located at PAC 10 Plaza, adjacent to Stanford Stadium in Stanford's athletics complex. Fitness activities begin at 8:30 a.m. (the health fair begins at 8:00 a.m.). Online event registration is available at www.lifelongfitnessalliance.org/race. On-site, event-day registration is offered starting at 7:30 a.m.

The emcees for the event are fitness guru Joanie Greggains and Don Bowden. Bowden claimed fame in 1957 by becoming the first American to break four minutes in a mile race. Greggains will lead a fun warm-up routine at 8:00 a.m. Both Greggains and Bowden will participate in the community walk and meet participants throughout the morning.

In addition, starting at 10 a.m., All Stars Helping Kids will present special sports clinics for children in which U.S. Olympians Brandi Chastain (soccer), Kate O'Neill (track and field/ distance running), and Erica McLain (track and field/triple jump), and others, will serve as clinicians. Children ages 5 through 13 can learn soccer strategies, get track and field tips, and measure their baseball pitching speed in these clinics. All Stars Helping Kids, a 20-year-old non-profit organization founded by football great Ronnie Lott, promotes a safe, healthy, and rigorous learning environment for disadvantaged children in low-income communities.

Brandi Chastain, who will assist with the children's soccer clinic, is a professional soccer player who plays for the FC Gold Pride in Women's Professional Soccer. She competed on U.S. women's Olympic soccer teams that earned gold medals in 1996 and 2004, and a silver medal in 2000. Chastain is widely known for her game-winning penalty kick against China in the 1999 World Cup final.

Erica McLain and Kate O'Neill will help out with the children's track and field clinic. McLain, a graduate of Stanford University, was a member of the 2008 Olympic team in the triple jump. She qualified for the Olympic team by finishing third at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials and was 14th overall in Beijing. O'Neill competed on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000 meter race. She was an All-American cross country and track and field athlete at Yale University. In 2008, she was the USA women's half marathon champion.

Two 5K runs are offered on race day, one for runners younger than age 50, and the other for runners age 50 and older. The latter race, the 26th Annual Paul Spangler Memorial 5K Run at 8:30 a.m., has a history that is rich with outstanding performances by many of the top senior runners in the U.S.

According to Running USA, a national non-profit organization for the sport, senior runners (age 50 and over) are now running road races in record numbers.

"In 2007, there were nearly 1.5 million (age) 50-plus finishers in U.S. road races compared to 364,000 in 1992, a four-fold increase in 16 years," said Ryan Lamppa, Running USA researcher.

Joy Johnson, 82, a retired physical education teacher who lives in San Jose, Calif. returns as one of the event's most distinguished age-group competitors. Johnson, who began running at age 59, won USA Track & Field Masters Runner of the Year Awards in her 80 to 84 year-old age division in 2007 and 2008. She runs almost every day. Among her many races, Johnson has completed 21 consecutive New York City Marathons. She invariably wins her age division, but Johnson said she doesn't compete for accolades or awards.

"I run because I want to stay healthy and live a quality life until I drop," Johnson said. "I don't want to be in a wheelchair."

Among men, Michael Dove, age 62, of Salinas, Calif. will line up on the starting line as a four-time winner of the race. He claimed overall victories in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2004 when the race was a highly competitive Pacific Association/USA Track & Field Championship for seniors.

"I've run this race every year except when I've been injured. It's exciting and fun because it's the only race that I know of that has a separate race for age 50 and over runners," Dove said. "I've found that runners who participate all have positive attitudes. They'd rather talk about their next athletic challenge rather than the topics of a lot of seniors such as health ailments and their prescription medications. That attitude carries over into other aspects of their lives."

Dove will compete and then take in the kids events with keen interest. He is the developer of Just Run, an innovative running program for children started in 2004 that now has over 6,000 youth participants in 70 schools located in 13 states.

"The place to ingrain good habits is when children are as young as possible." said Dove. "If you can inspire kids and communicate to them that there's a link between physical activity, fun, and good health at an early age, then you've made a lifelong impact on them. It doesn't necessarily need to be running, but running is easy and convenient to do."

Stephanie Atwood will bring a group of about 20 female runners and walkers to the Lifelong Fitness Alliance Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk who are members of the WOW Team, a fitness group for women that she founded. Atwood believes that people can derive similar health benefits from walking and running.

"The recommendation now is at least 30 minutes of exercise at least every other day," said Atwood, who is a trainer and coach who specializes in fitness for life. "If it's good, solid walking where you can feel your heart pounding, rather than just strolling or sauntering, you can gain fitness benefits."

Also attending, and running in, the event is Amby Burfoot, 62, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, and a longtime editor for Runner's World magazine. Burfoot, who has run over 100,000 miles, said he originally was inspired to strive for a long, healthy life filled with exercise by John A. Kelley, the running legend of the Boston Marathon who competed in the race 61 times and won it twice.

ABOUT THE EVENT: The Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk are organized by Lifelong Fitness Alliance (formerly Fifty-Plus Lifelong Fitness), a 30-year-old non-profit organization which advocates lifelong wellness, and provides information and opportunities for health and fitness. All proceeds from the Lifelong Fitness Community Walk benefit All Stars Helping Kids. Proceeds from the running races benefit the Lifelong Fitness Alliance's programs for seniors.

EVENT ENTRY: Details and online event registration for the Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk are available via the Lifelong Fitness Alliance web site at www.lifelongfitnessalliance.o. A downloadable registration form is also available on the web site, or contact the Lifelong Fitness Alliance office (Redwood City, Calif.): (650) 361-8282, E-mail: info@lifelongfitnessalliance.org.

Many thanks to our major sponsors who help make the Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk possible: City of Palo Alto Recreation, Palo Alto Weekly, Brookdale Living, Sports Authority, Piazzas Fine Foods, and Whole Foods.


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