Last November another chapter of KidStriders got up and running (pun intended) at Stowe Elementary School, right on the cusp of a winter that’s turned out to feel like a marathon. Not exactly prime running season, in other words. Nevertheless, since then the club has racked up an aggregate of 26,967 laps of the school grounds out back, which equate to 1,884 miles.
Monday morning a couple of real ringers in town for this week’s Drake Relays showed up at Stowe to give the kids some kudos and tips – and to take a lap with them.
Katie Mackey won last year’s Grand Blue Mile, a downtown road race that is one the Relays’ annual kickoff events and includes runners from all of the DMPS KidStrider schools. She’s also medaled in the World Championships.
Brenda Martinez will be competing in her first Grand Blue Mile later this week, but she figures to give her old college rival Mackey a run for the first place money. Martinez was the 2016 USA Indoor Champion at 1500 meters and was also a bronze medalist in the 800 at the 2013 World Championships.
The pair shared some of the secrets of their running success with students in the school gym before herding them outside to cash in on a perfect morning for roadwork.
Mackey told the kids that when she’s struggling with her training she thinks of her pet cat.
“Cats can run up to 30 mph,” she said. “Usain Bolt (the reigning world’s fastest human from Jamaica) can only go 27, so I try to channel my inner cat to go faster.”
Martinez said running is good all-around therapy, not just healthy physical exercise.
“If you’re not having a good day, get up and run,” she recommended. “You will feel better, I promise.”
The fleet-footed guests fielded a wide range of questions about everything from their favorite baseball teams to the Iowa State Fair. They were also asked about the beginnings of their racing careers. Interestingly, neither won the first race they ran, but here they are now at the front of the pack of the world’s professional runners.
Outside, they were challenged.
“I bet I can beat you both,” one Stowe speedster boasted before sprinting away. Another tumbled in the congestion at the start but was consoled when her shoe was retied by a world-class footracer. One should never race with a loose lace.
Tie ‘em up tight for Tuesday night when Monday’s hosts will be chasing their guests through the streets of downtown Des Moines.