FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Run This City Youth Marathon Program Successful on Many Levels
Program spurred significant increases in health of students
CLEVELAND (Feb. 26, 2009) – They came. They trained. They ran.
The results are in and the 2008 We Run This City Youth Marathon Program
(WRTC) was a success in numerous aspects. Not only did the Rite Aid
Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K draw over 10,000 participants, it
also provided 283 Cleveland Metropolitan School District 6th – 12th graders
the opportunity to cross the finish line with professional and amateur
runners, all the while becoming healthier.
Of the 283 students running on race day, 210 ran the 1.2 mile route
specifically designated for the WRTC youth (the 26th mile in their two
month training), 71 students ran the 10K (6.2 mile) portion of the race,
and two brave students completed the half marathon (13.1 miles). This
resulted in 718.4 miles run on race day, collectively.
"What is most impressive is the number of miles that the students ran in
the 16 weeks prior to race day – over 10,000," said Program Director Tara
Taylor. "The training the children received in the months prior to the
event resulted in a number of improvements, ranging from their physical
health, self-esteem and lifestyle choices."
The Center for Health Promotion Research at Case Western Reserve
University, a WRTC program partner, plays an integral role in the program,
performing the pre- and post-race day assessments for each of the youth
participants. 2008 evaluation measures highlighted some of the following
results: 35 percent of the children running the 1.2 miles were considered
having pre- or hypertensive blood pressure prior to the program, as
measured by NHLBI standards. Post evaluation results indicated a 10 percent
decrease in hypertension with a drop to 25 percent, most significantly in
the pre-hypertensive area, dropping from 22.7 percent to 13.6 percent.
10K youth participant results showed an even higher drop with, 42 percent
pre- or hypertensive blood pressure prior to the training program, dropping
to 23 percent post-race. Both categories experienced dramatic reductions
of 5.2 and 13.8 percent, respectively.
Also improving was the amount of time the students could endure physical
activity, increased strength, and a decrease in the fat content found in
"Although the physical changes the students displayed are impressive, it is
the changes to their self-image and their extra-curricular activity choices
that deserve our acknowledgements," Taylor said. "The children are getting
better grades, experiencing better relationships with their peers, spending
more of their free time engaged in physical activities rather than watching
television or playing video games, and, above all, have an improved
"Each one of these improvements is a success in and of itself; but
collectively, it's an immense accomplishment for the program," says Ralph
Staph, Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race director. "Providing an outlet for
health and fitness in the community is the purpose for our marathon. We
are quite pleased that outlet is available and beneficial to our children
Dedicated to encouraging healthy habits and exercise in Cleveland's young
people, We Run This City formative years began as a collaboration between
the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, Steps to a Healthier Cleveland, the
Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and The Rite Aid Cleveland
Marathon. The catalyst of the collaboration was the Cleveland Department
of Public Health (CDPH) receipt of a multi-million, multi-year cooperative
agreement from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2004 Steps to
a Healthier US initiative to form Steps to a Healthier Cleveland. In 2005,
the YMCA of USA joined Steps to a Healthier US. It was in 2006 that We Run
This City Youth Marathon Program trained 81 CMSD 6th – 8th graders. The
program participation rates have nearly doubled in size every year since
2006. With generous contributions from Steps to a Healthier Cleveland, the
Medical Mutual of Ohio Charitable Foundation-The Cleveland Foundation, St.
Luke's Foundation, the Mt. Sinai Foundation, and the Ohio Department of
Health, the WRTC program is able to provide programming for 500 Cleveland
In 2008, Dr. Eugene Sanders, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School
District, and Glen Haley, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, both
participated in the race. Taylor says they anticipate that both leaders
will be returning to the streets this May to support the youth. One of the
participating students plans to invite Cleveland's Mayor, Frank G. Jackson,
to compete with them in the 2009 race on Sunday, May 17 in downtown
"This program is of the utmost importance to our community," said Haley.
"Health and fitness among our youth is becoming a large concern in Cuyahoga
County, and having an outlet for these kids is going to be beneficial on so
many levels as they grow to be the next generations of working adults. I
truly enjoyed participating along side of the kids and seeing the pride
they had for their outstanding accomplishments."
The Cleveland Department of Public Health received funding from the Ohio
Department of Health to expand the 2009 WRTC program to include a family
component. Encouraging healthy behaviors for the entire family, parents of
the marathon participants will have a unique opportunity to also join the
marathon as they support their son or daughter in the program. As an
incentive for their participation, the ODH funding will allow the YMCA to
offer free three-month memberships in order to train for the marathon. For
those parents participating, the son or daughter will also receive a three
month membership to the YMCA. Parents will also have the opportunity to
receive free running shoes and a Body Age Screening conducted by the YMCA.
Like most sponsorships, Steps to a Healthier Cleveland's funding will
expire later this year, and this means the program coordinators are
scrambling to find other ways for students to participate in We Run This
City in the future.
"What the program needs now is sustainability," says Taylor. "We know that
the program is succeeding, but we need to find a way for more and more of
our city's youth to participate."
Taylor suggests several ways for individuals or businesses to assist in
program sponsorship: help in promoting the program and their campaign with
Clear Channel and Radio One, speak at one of the Business Council or
Community Consortium meetings, or sponsor a student or school and follow
them throughout their training. Any of these ways will help support the
program, and, in turn, support a child in becoming a healthier adult, she
The 2009 WRTC pre-evaluation marathon activities have recently begun. Over
500 students took part in the pre-evaluation program and are expected to
participate in the 2009 race day event on May 17. Training has already
begun for the half marathon and 10K students, and training for the students
who will run the last 1.2 miles on race day began February 23.
For further information on the We Run This City Youth Marathon Program,
call (216) 263-6298. To learn more about the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon,
Half Marathon & 10K on Sunday, May 17, 2009, visit
www.clevelandmarathon.com or call 800-467-3826.