by Matt Hammel, Summerfest 3K/1Mile Youth Co-Race Director
It’s common knowledge that physical activity is important for young people. Regular exercise has been found to reduce the risk of many diseases, including childhood obesity, and has also been linked to higher academic performance. There isn’t much of a debate regarding the importance of our youth to be active, but many parents are looking for options for their kids where physical activity is promoted.
There is some great news for parents. Ventura is going through a running boom! There are more options for Ventura youth to participate in running than ever before. Ventura Tigres Youth Track Club is celebrating its 40th year of existence this Spring and has been filling up their roster to the maximum of 300 athletes for the past few years. VC Express, a Youth Cross Country program offers an opportunity for youth athletes to compete in Cross Country meets across Southern California in the fall. This past fall, over 500 cross country athletes from nine VUSD elementary schools and four VUSD middle schools competed in the Ventura County Youth Cross Country League.
All of this youth running seems to be paying dividends for the local high schools. Buena High School’s boys Cross Country team placed 3rd in the Ventura County Cross Country Championships this past fall. Both the boy’s and girl’s Cross Country teams at Ventura High School qualified for the State meet this past season, with the boys taking 5th place. This follows a year when the Ventura boy’s team won the State title and competed at the Nike Nationals meet in Portland, Oregon. Foothill Technology High School also sent both their boy’s and girl’s teams to the State meet in only their second year as a high school team.
May 21st is a great opportunity for youth to get involved with the Ventura youth running boom. The 11th annual Summerfest, presented by the Ventura Education Partnership (VEP) and the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) in alliance with the City of Ventura will be held on Saturday, May 21st from 9am to 2pm. Races start at 8:00 with the Middle School boys 3k, followed by the Middle School girls 3k at 8:30. Then the Elementary School boy’s 1 Mile begins at 9:15am and finally the Elementary School girl’s 1 mile at 9:30am. Summerfest is free to the community and besides the races, includes many other active events.
Additionally, Mountains2Beach Marathon’s (M2B) extra support of the Summerfest races ensures they too, remain free for youth runners under 18. M2B hosts a 5k in conjunction with the M2B Marathon on Sunday, May 29th with 100% of the proceeds going to Summerfest.