For 10-year-old Kelbie Black, of Cooperas Cove, Texas, running didn’t always come naturally. In fact, when her dad, Kyle Black, the P.E. teacher at her school (Taylor Creek Elementary) introduced the Marathon Kids program there, he didn’t even know if his daughter would be into it. The truth is, Kelbie, who was a third grader at the time, didn’t really like running. Now, three years and more than 1,000 miles later, she’s the top performing Marathon Kids runner—among boys and girls alike—in the United States. She’s also happier, healthier and doing better in school than ever before.
Research shows that girls who are active have a better sense of self and more positive coping skills. Yet globally girls are still about half as active as boys. That’s one of the many reasons why Nike works with programs like Marathon Kids, which trains and motivates kids to work at their own pace to run or walk the equivalent of four marathons (104.8 miles) in a year—it allows more girls, like Kelbie, to benefit from the incredible power of sport and play. Since starting Marathon Kids, Kelbie has become more confident in the classroom, on the track, at home, and in her community.
Once Kelbie realized that running was a great way to spend time with her friends, she was sold. She run-walks about three miles with her friends every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She makes a point to run at whatever pace her friends are doing, so they can stay together and laugh and chat through the laps. When she’s not at school, she completes the miles at home instead. Her family, teachers and friends all help hold her accountable so she can reach her goals — and she does the same for her friends who are doing the program in return.
The same year that Kelbie started Marathon Kids, she and her parents learned that she was dyslexic. They say that running has really helped her push through and stay positive when things get tough. “The program has helped her realize that she can still accomplish tasks even if they seem impossible,” says Coach Black.
Kelbie was the first student at her school to complete four marathons, but rather than slowing down after reaching the goal, she was motivated to move even more. Kelbie completed more than 21 marathons last year, making her the top Marathon Kids runner in the country. Now a fifth grader, she completed her 1,000th mile this spring. That means over the course of three years, she’s run an average of over 330 miles per year, or the equivalent of more than one full marathon a month. And based on what we know about this girl, we’re confident that she won’t be stopping any time soon.
When it comes to helping kids fall in love with sport and continue playing, a great coach can make all the difference. We’re working with our partners to rewrite the coaching playbook and inspire more adults to play a role in getting kids moving.