Sunday, June 19, 2011

Centennial Fun Run-Best Family Fun Event in Howard County for 33 years and running

Thirty-one years before Michelle Obama started her campaign to improve the fitness of our youth we had a Howard County resident starting her own effort to “get all of us moving.” Arleen Dinneen has been organizing the Centennial Fun Run for 32 years that has probably started more Howard County residents running than any other event.

Back in the mid 70’s before running was popular Arleen’s son Tim told her that he and some of his friends  had done a mile run on the track at Centennial High School.  Thinking that a mile was one lap of the track she decided to do it herself.  After completing one lap and stopping she was told that a mile was FOUR times around the track.  Not one to stop before doing the mile she pushed herself to do the other three laps and decided that she wanted to be able to do all four laps without stopping.  When she could do that she heard about the Howard County Striders weekly runs and thought she would go out with her son to do the 2-mile length run.  When someone suggested trying the 6-mile run she thought that would be too far but eventually they were able to do it.

Again this was before the running craze (and triathlons) and Arleen just ran in cutoffs and tennis shoes. But because the Striders were so friendly and encouraging to the beginning runners she stuck with it.  Along the way she started hosting some informal runs for kids in her neighborhood around a one-mile course.  Each week it seemed to have more kids and then even some parents joined in the runs and the Centennial Fun Run was born.  One thing led to another and she decided to give the kids a trophy if they did the run 5 times and started sending the run results to the local newspaper to have them posted. Each year it has grown and is now an official event sponsored by the Howard County Striders. Many of the youth that have gone on to join the Junior Striders started out at Arleen’s Fun Run. Along the way her neighbors like Dave and Peggy Fitzpatrick and Alice and Bill Barrows became race volunteers. After starting to run the Fun Run with my children when they were young I am now bringing out my grandchildren.  And that story is repeated by a number of other families. And Arleen’s kids are now grown with families of their own and help her run the events each week.

Even though Arleen gets the young high school track runners who can do the Fun Run in less than 5 minutes she has always thought of this as an event for kids.  With this in mind she has a different theme night. I have posted some of these events like caulk night, Scales and Tales, Banjo Buddies and one really special time years ago when a neighbor and I ran as the crash test dummies, Vince and Larry.  While those suits didn’t breath and were very hot we had fun coming up behind runners and yelling out “Your being passed by a crash dummy.”

Tuesday night starts its 33rd year at 7:30 on 10114 Colonial Drive in Ellicott City near Centennial High School. Think about coming out or emailing this blog to friends, family and neighbors who may be interested in starting a new healthy family tradition. You never know where it will lead.

 Yours truly at the right at the Fun Run with my Son in 1997

For me this blog also has a personal impact. Twenty-six years ago I was one of those non-runners who thought that getting out to run in all kinds of weather was crazy. Arleen was a co-worker of my at the time and she said “don’t knock it till you try it.”  And she invited me to try her Fun Run since it was only a one mile run.  As someone who played racquetball 5 or 6 times a week I thought that doing this shouldn’t be a problem.  However when I saw kids 7 and 8 years old passing me (to say nothing about the women) on the run I decided come back out the next week after building my endurance up during the following week.  After pushing myself to do first one mile then 2 miles and finally 3 miles I began to see how your body could really adjust to aerobic exercise. Suddenly I saw myself as a runner and set goals of doing a 10K race and then training for a marathon, something I had never imaged myself doing in the recent past. Fast forward 26 years and running, like blogging, has become a part of who I am. By my estimation I have run far enough in those years to run around the earth twice having run over 50,000 miles in those 26 years. While 10K races every weekend, the Bagel Run and marathons (having completed 11 including Chicago last year) are no longer something I do I still think of myself as a runner although these days it might be more accurate to call myself a slow jogger. For this I salute you Arleen!

P.S. 2
The Sun had a story in its Sunday Business section about the increased use of social media to market businesses and non profits  

P.S. 3
You know you are getting older when the musicians you have listened to over the years start dying.  The E Street Band lost a great saxophonist this week in Clarence Clemons. If you haven’t heard him take a listen to what a great saxophonist sounds like.

1 comment:

Fun Run said...

Those kids really enjoyed the event. This is great! :D