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Teacher starts running club for Pivik Elementary students

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Elementary school students run around Pivik Elementary School in the Running Mustangs program on Thursday, April 25, 2013. All elementary schools participated in the program headed by high school teacher Jay Marston. The program is designed to help children develop lifelong exercise routines including running.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Running for Pivik are Jen Bell, Maura Marston and Sydney Anderson, with Evan and Alexis Smith in the background. Plum kids run in the Running Mustangs program at Pivik Elementary School on Thursday, April 25, 2013. All elementary schools participated in the program headed by high school teacher Jay Marston. The program is designed to help children develop lifelong exercise routines including running.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Pivik students Rachel Bunce and Isabella Altieri run the 15-minute course at the school. Plum kids run in the Running Mustangs program at Pivik on Thursday, April 25, 2013. All elementary schools participated in the program headed by high school teacher Jay Marston. The program is designed to help children develop lifelong exercise routines including running.

Casual running fit Jay Marston's lifestyle.

“I've done it most of my adult life,” said Marston, 38, of Plum who added that running helped him after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

A few years ago, Marston, a social studies teacher at Plum High School, decided to assist Joe Ionta in coaching the cross country team.

The experience prompted Marston to begin running cross country that is over natural terrain.

“The beauty is in its simplicity,” Marston said. “If done correctly, it is the best cardiovascular exercise anyone can do. And it focuses on goal-setting and commitments.”

Marston decided the activity would be ideal for youngsters and, with Superintendent Timothy Glasspool's support, started the “Running Mustangs Elementary District Running Program.”

The eight-week program has about 150 participants from all five of Plum's elementary schools. It is designed to introduce youngsters to distance running as a fun activity and competitive sport as well as an integral component to a healthier lifestyle.

The cost per child is $10 and covers a T-shirt with the slogan, “It Doesn't Matter How Fast You Run, So Long As You Do Not Stop,” a snack and a water bottle.

The children in grades three through six meet at Pivik from 4 to 5:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays through May 23. Marston also includes three “long runs” from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Boyce Park. The next one is May 11.

Also, a two-mile end-of-the-program race is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 25 at Plum High School.

Marston starts the sessions by talking with the children about setting goals for their runs. The youngsters have a snack, stretch and do their run.

Steven Joyce, 19, a 2012 Plum High School graduate who earned eight varsity letters — four for cross country and four for track and field — and became a top distance runner for the Plum Mustangs in two seasons, assists Marston with the program.

“I like working with the kids,” Joyce said.

Jonah Albert, 12, a sixth-grader at Regency Park Elementary, aspires to become a member of the cross country team when he goes to seventh grade at Oblock Junior High School.

“I want to try to get in condition,” Albert said. “I have a little ways to go.”

Andrea D'Incau, 10, and Abby Lewis, 9, both students at Regency Park Elementary, decided to join the program so they could get in shape for playing soccer.

“And it gets me outside,” D'Incau said.

Julian Richter, 10, a fourth-grader at Regency Park Elementary, said cross country running helps him run faster when he plays baseball.

“Hopefully, this program will create a lifelong passion for fitness,” said Jen Bell, 41, a Plum High School teacher whose son, Noah Bell, 9, is in the program.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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