Most people cannot fathom running a marathon. Single mother and elementary teacher Tara Lord just ran her second 26.2 mile race with a group of young runners called the Sole Sisters. What possesses someone to tie on shoes and set off to run that far?
“I wanted to prove to myself that I’m tough enough,” Tara said.
She did prove that. But this time, she wanted to give that gift of self-confidence to some of her young students. Instead of doing her second One City Marathon alone, Tara gathered some young students in grades second through fifth and brought them along to race beside her. Thus, the Sole Sisters Race Team started.
“I wanted these girls to see that they could do this,” she said. “I taught three out of the four of them—I knew they were all strong academically, but I wanted them to see that they were powerful in other ways.”
The girls of the Sole Sisters formed a relay team running distances spanning 4.8 miles to 7.9 miles in order to complete the race alongside their teacher.
“These were challenging distances for each one of these girls,” Tara explained. “But they didn’t quit. Every step got them closer to their own finish line.”
Getting the girls to the starting line presented a bit of a challenge. Tara didn’t want any of the girls to have to pay the steep race costs.
“I started a donation page to cover the entry fees,” she explained. “I then got a text from my friend Kristen Long who is starting her own line of clothing for running mamas like me. She not only offered to pay the difference in the race fees, she also made shirts for us to wear during the race!”
Long, who has recently launched her business Run Mama Run, was delighted to support the Sole Sisters.
“Tara is really invested in the kids she teaches, and what she did for these girls is a great thing!” Kristen said. “I got to spend some time with these girls, and I was really impressed with them. It was amazing for them at their ages to complete the distances they ran!”
Both Kristen and Tara agree that giving kids the opportunity to try something way out of their comfort zone is critical in developing self-confidence and resilience.
“The moms were even more nervous about the race than their daughters,” Tara laughed. “They were all surprised at how well the kids did.”
So whether you walk, run, swim, or hike—what exactly are the benefits of connecting kids with big fitness goals?
1. Confidence is an obvious pay-off.
“The sense of accomplishment is a huge gift for a kid,” Kristen said. Tara added, “These girls learned from that race that they were strong and could do anything else they set their minds to.”
2. Fitness gets kids outside.
“Electronics consume kids these day,” Kristen, a mother herself, said. “Children need to be outside, and sports outside of forced activities like PE get kids to continue moving.”
“It’s great for their health,” said Tara.
3. Goal setting
“These girls want to continue running,” said Tara. “One wants to complete the entire marathon next year—it’s a big goal, but I know she will develop the self-discipline to complete it.”
“In order to reach larger fitness milestones, kids need to train consistently,” Kristen added. “They have to be determined and resilient.”
4. The bonding
These girls weren’t called the “Sole Sisters” for nothing.
“We talked a lot while we raced,” said Tara. “It was so much fun to hear all the stories they told me about themselves as we ran. It was neat for them to see me outside of teaching, too.”
The girls all had fun goofing off during each of the official photographs as they would pass.
Kristen agrees that the bonding is important.
“Running is something we can do together as a family,” she said. “My son can play soccer, but I can’t be out there on the field with him during games. I can, however, race with him and we can motivate each other.”
The longer distance races often have shorter races for younger members of the family to enjoy.
“These fun runs will hopefully inspire the younger runners to stay with the sport and do longer races when they’re older.”