Mellon Running Club Finishes Strong

Hard Work and Dedication Pay off for Runners
Posted on 05/24/2016

Members of the Mellon Elementary School Running Club proved hard work and dedication pay off based on their results from the Feed the Need 5K run May 7.

“The results were beyond amazing, and Michelle and I were totally overwhelmed with the students’ responses,” said Vanessa Gollnick, who co-sponsors the club along with Michelle McCullough.

Mellon came out on top in most categories. They had the second place male overall winner, Tarik Castor, who came in at 20 minutes and 44 seconds, and the third place overall female, Ymira Passmore, who finished at 22 minutes and 29 seconds.

They took first, second and third place in the males under 10 category and second place in males 11-14. In females under 10, they took second and third place, and took first place in females 11-14.

Gollnick said the students were extremely pleased when she took first place in the females 30-39 category.

She spoke of the look on people’s faces at the 5K when the running club students started coming in so quickly. “People were inspired by their unrelenting effort and dedicated training,” she said. “Others reported that our students were encouraging other runners to keep going. It was such a spectacular sight and an overwhelming experience for us.”

Gollnick said she and McCullough have been avid runners for years and wanted to share their love of running with the students at Mellon. That’s why they decided to create the Mellon Running Club.

They held their first meeting in September, with the goal of preparing the students to run the Feed the Need 5K in May.

“At first, we intended to invite students, both boys and girls, who struggled with behavior as a way to motivate the students to change their behavior,” Gollnick said. “We wanted to build strong relationships with these students and teach them leadership and goal-setting skills.”

However, the club became so popular so fast that they began taking any student in grades four and five that were interested.

Starting with about forty students, every afternoon’s practice consisted of homework help, followed by a Character Counts! lesson. Students then ran or participated in running clinics, and snacks were provided thanks to a grant.

“We started by having the students run one mile, which was three laps around the trail we had mapped out,” Gollnick said. “The students created a goal, timed themselves, and then revised or adjusted their goals accordingly.”

The club members continued to do this at every mile marker with the ultimate goal of being able to run the 5K in less than 40 minutes.

Gollnick and McCullough took turns running the laps with the students, helping them pace themselves and encouraging them to always try their best and never give up.

In January, the club was opened to third grade students, with 25-35 students running every practice.

To raise money to enter the 5K, the club held several fundraisers and collected donations from throughout the community. They sold Krispy Kreme donuts, and the Church of God by Faith in Crescent City and the Palatka Men’s Golf Association donated to the group.

“With this money, we were able to pay the fee for the race for 32 students,” Gollnick said. “We also purchased Running Club T-shirts, and, with the help of the Family Shoe Store in Palatka, 10 pair of running shoes for students in our club.”

Proceeds from the Feed the Need 5K go to the Blessings in a Backpack program that sends food home with students every week and during school breaks for families in need.