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Blog: NRPA Comes Up with Another Winning Initiative

Now that kids have seen plenty of Olympic athletes, and one hopes, have plenty of new role models, it's time to harness some of that energy and enthusiasm, and use it to get them to commit to physical activity.

I know - easier said than done, right? Kids like the idea of going down in history, but when confronted with the idea of training, they tend to move back in front of the TV. Come to think of it, the same holds true for adults.

Here's the good news, though. There's a great initiative out there to get kids and adults active, and it looks easy and fun. Oh, and did we mention the possibility of appearing in the Guinness Book of World Records?

The National Recreation and Parks Association and National Geographic Kids are teaming up to produce Run for the Planet. It asks kids and adults to pledge to run, or even walk, 100 meters between noon Eastern Time Friday, Oct. 26, and noon Saturday, Oct. 27. They'd like to set the world record for the most people doing a 100-meter course during that time, and they're encouraging schools, fitness clubs, parks and others to get involved.

100 meters. Same distance run by the likes of Usain Bolt. It's only one-fourth of the way around a standard running track, for anyone who is keeping count, although NRPA and NGK don't require you to use a track. All they want is a pre-measured, level and safe course with marked start and finish lines. Anyone around the world can participate by signing up at the site.

The bait on the hook, according to both organizations, is the possibility of knowing you were part of an official world record, which is something that we've seen has an undeniable attraction, as with the recent World's Largest Swimming Lesson.

Something else cool is that if all goes well, two records will be broken over that period. One is the running record, but a second one will mark the longest chain of used athletic shoes ever collected. When kids and adults come to participate in the Run for the Planet, they'll be asked to bring a used pair of sneakers. The only qualifications are that they be athletic shoes, and that they have laces, since all the sneakers collected will be tied together by their laces to form the chain. After they're all collected and the length of the chain has been verified, the shoes will be recycled by the organizers.

The fact that this event takes place on both a Friday and a Saturday means schools have a chance to get in on the action. Even if it turns out to be a rainy day, kids could run their course in a gym. Fitness facilities can accommodate adult participants by marking out a course and leaving a container out for old shoes. Since it's a change of season, it's certainly possible people are ready to shed their old running shoes, cross trainers or court shoes, and that kids have a pair or two they've outgrown. Organizers welcome those with more than one pair to spare.

The site for the event includes all kinds of information, as well as tips on how kids can get their schools involved, how to attract media attention, how to get the proper paperwork for the event, how to have the course measured, and more. There's even a downloadable form about shoe donation.

For kids and adults who spent two weeks over the summer watching world records fall, this is a great chance to establish fun bragging rights of their own, and to watch their used shoes get repurposed - and made famous. If there's a better plan than that, I can't think of it.

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