Youth run is just five days away

Youth athletes proudly display their ribbons won during last year’s Jumpstart Elementary School Cross Country Run held at Sorosis Park. Last year, 300 boys and girls from kindergarten-through-fifth grade participated in the 19th annual event. Scott McMullen/Contributed photo

Nelson Invite upcoming

The Bridgette Nelson Invitational is coming up at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23 at Sorosis Park.

Races continue every half hour after the first race and awards are presented at 6 p.m.

TD coach Bob Thouvenel is looking for middle school and high school volunteers.

Parents of senior runners need to be present for recognition.

For information, call 541-298-1119.

The 20th annual Jumpstart Elementary Cross Country races are fast approaching and more than 300 boys and girls from kindergarten through fifth grade are expected to join in on the fun, starting at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Sorosis Park.

Kids from the Columbia Gorge, Wasco, Hood River and Sherman counties are encouraged to run.

Pre-registration is not necessary.

Aside from the event itself, event organizer Tom Conklin’s aim is to teach all aspects of cross country and overall health and an active lifestyle, so children develop a love of the sport early on. Athletes do not start competing in cross country runs until middle school, so this is a teaser for the youngsters as they try to find their niche in the upcoming years.

“If we can get the kids to that race or the track meets and to compete, it is easy to see the satisfaction on their face,” Conklin added. “You don’t have to ask them; they are beaming with thrill.”

Since its inception in 1996 at St. Petersburg School, Conklin has seen the event grow. He remains in complete awe to this day. “It seems to keep coming back with interest,” Conklin added.

At 3:30 p.m., athletes in kindergarten and first grade start the festivities off in a half-mile race.

Second and third graders hit the course at 3:45 p.m. for a race ranging from a half-mile to three quarters of a mile in duration.

Rounding out the age groups are the fourth and fifth graders, who will duke it out for 1.1 miles.

Registration begins at 3 p.m. and there is no fee to participate. Place ribbons are offered to the top-10 finishers in each race, boys and girls, and the awards are provided by the Colonel Wright PTO and Dry Hollow PTA.

In the month and change leading up to Tuesday’s run, Conklin and his fellow instructors provided these athletes with directions, and other tips and tricks to help them compete in these long-distance runs.

Last year, The Dalles attracted close to 300 runners, many of the participants representing District 21 schools.

Colonel Wright, Chenowith and Dry Hollow Elementary Schools had better turnouts, with Colonel Wright bumping from 119 to 138 signees.

Dry Hollow swelled from 73 to 94 and Chenowith saw a jump from 43 to 59.

With its number of 138, Colonel Wright won bragging rights and the Elementary XC trophy.

All staff willing to volunteer on that day for registration table, finish line and awards duties can contact Conklin at or call 541-340-9307.

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