Camp cardio at Dundee Middle School
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News October 15, 2012 2:54PM
Seventh-grader Autumn Miller, 12, supports other runners Friday during the Midnight Mile 24 Hour Challenge Run at Dundee Middle School in West Dundee. October 10, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 18, 2012 6:05AM
Instead of playing video games indoors, students from Dundee Middle School spent hours running outdoors after school. That insight, from parent Scott Alm of Carpentersville, described one way the Oct. 12 event, 11th Annual Midnight Mile, benefited kids.
“He’s having a blast,” said Alm of his son Corey Alm, a sixth-grader taking part in the overnight camping and continual run that required weeks of training through the West Dundee school’s physical education department. “With all the practice they did, they’re good to go.”
The event, through which runners raised monetary contributions that will go toward a fitness center at the school, drew 378 student participants and 21 parents.
It started at 9 a.m. Friday at the school, with enrollees each running a one-mile leg before handing off a baton to the next teammate in a continual pattern that stretched to 9 a.m. Saturday. More than 120 camp-style tents were set up on the football field behind Dundee Middle School, where students passed the time as runners circled around them on the track. With campfires, hot chocolate, pizza, submarine sandwiches and blankets stationed about, the event gave kids plenty of opportunities for socializing as well.
“When I was home from work in the evenings, I saw all these kids running every day in the neighborhood,” said Alm. “It was something different that got kids away from their video games, and kids who didn’t even know each other before were running together to train.”
PE instructor Erin Frank — who also coaches the school’s track, volleyball and girls basketball — coordinated training for Midnight Mile. She said that kind of positive feedback is rewarding.
“That’s the side of it we don’t get to see,” Frank said, explaining the concept of Midnight Mile is similar to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life except that walking is not allowed.
Friday’s weather was sunny and pleasant, she said, noting that runners were excused from classes just as they would be for a field trip. The relay drew students who weren’t necessarily athletic or competitive, she said, because of its creative framework.
“The camping day is a great draw because there is a little bit of an adventure,” Frank said. “There is a social element.” Friday night’s cool temperatures inspired students to huddle up in blankets and warm up by the campfires.
And for the physical fitness aspect, the kids essentially run a half marathon when all their miles are totaled up throughout the event, Frank said. The training program was seven weeks and started off with basic conditioning, such as a two-minute walk.
“We planned it so any beginner student can join in and pick up,” she said. As the training progressed, the participants were tested to ensure they were on track. At the three-week point, for example, students had to run one mile without stopping.
Sixth-grader Mike Sanchez of Carpentersville said Friday night that he had already run seven miles by 11:30 p.m.
“The two-mile test (in the training program) was the hardest,” he said, explaining he felt nauseous when he first achieved the two-mile mark during training. “But I’m doing great right now.”