ST. GEORGE — It was all smiles as hundreds of kids and people with disabilities crossed the finish line in mini-races Friday night on the eve of the St. George Marathon.
Participants in the “Move It!” premarathon events ran in 200-meter and 1-mile races in a kids-only “Fun Run” division and an “I Am Able” division for people with disabilities.
“We try to give all the participants’ kids an opportunity to race in a race, and they get to come down the same finish line as their parents, so it kind of gives them that same type of feel,” race coordinator Nicholas Peterson said. “We give them the celebration, the medals, the shirts.”
The young runners in the Fun Run appeared to give it their all. While some of the mile-runners blazed past the finish line in around five minutes, everyone made it there eventually and was greeted with medals, high fives and applause.
In the I Am Able division, participants of all ages walked, ran and rolled through the finish line with volunteer racing assistants giving encouragement along the way.
“We think it’s a very important part for the St. George Marathon to make sure that every person in the community has the opportunity to finish the race – to cross the finish line with or without help,” St. George Marathon race operations manager Kami Ellsworth said.
The St. George Leisure Services Office incorporated the I Am Able race into the marathon pre-events four years ago in an effort to make city programs more inclusive.
“With the building of the All Abilities Park in St. George – Thunder Junction – we decided that, as a city, we really needed to take some time and make sure that all of our programs, all of our events, are all-inclusive to everyone in the community,” Ellsworth said.
While about 200 people participated in this year’s Move It, Peterson said the event has room to grow to about 500 participants.
“It was pretty big – bigger than I expected,” he said of the turnout. “It keeps getting bigger every year.”
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