Brandon LaRue, 16, is counting the days until Thanksgiving, but not for traditional purposes. Turkey Day culminates the hard work of those involved in the Northwest Broward Road Runners Youth Program in which participants run a 5K after seven weeks of preparation.
“We all strive to run the entire distance,” said LaRue, in regards to the season-ending Tamarac Turkey Trot. “It’s great because we each have individual running goals and do it better when we run together.”
Around 6 years old, LaRue’s mother suggested that he join the program, which has both a fall and spring season. Every Saturday morning, LaRue and about 70 other youths, ages 6-16, get on their marks at North Community Park.
At the beginning of each running season, participants are split into groups according to their abilities and ages, and work on gradually progressing each week to eventually complete a 5K.
Fabio Tylim, the program’s manager and running coach, aids in such efforts.
“This is really a great way to get kids exposed to running and for them to realize that they can achieve a goal,” said Tylim, who is assisted by Lisa Callahan. “To be able to run a 5K after only seven weeks is a wonderful accomplishment, especially for kids.”
Tylim sets up a 1 mile circuit at the park, but before taking to the pavement, the participants’ warm-up and stretch properly. Under Tylim’s tutelage, each discusses nutrition and hydration and undergoes speed training and endurance drills to enhance their experience.
LaRue has taken to the program so well over the years that he now is on J.P. Taravella High School’s varsity track and cross country teams.
“When you run with other people, you tend to challenge yourself even more,” said LaRue, who wants to continue endurance and distance running in some collegiate capacity. “Honestly, I think if I was out there by myself when I first joined the youth program, I’m not sure if I would have ever gotten into running.”
When the runners are split into their respective training groups, each one sets a personal goal, while having the comfort and support of one another around the track. This aids in confidence, which subsequently breeds success each week.
“Everyone is placed in their group, according to their ability, and we strive to provide the best possible atmosphere,” Tylim added. “Everyone slowly increases their distance and skills and I think there’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning.”