After four decades the Greater Derry Track Club’s (GDTC) summer fun runs continue to bring out hundreds of youngsters for healthy exercise and fun.
And season number 42 of the fun runs continued in earnest each of the last two Thursdays at Pinkerton Academy’s track, with kids from Londonderry doing themselves particularly proud with top-three finishes in their respective age groups.
In action Thursday night, June 30, a pair of youngsters from town tallied top-three finishes, with one snaring a second and one bagging a third.
“June 30 offered another perfect day of running weather for the third week of the series,” said GDTC press liaison Bonney Cashin. “An additional 80 kids signed up to run in the kids’ summer fun run series.
So this year, 517 children have participated in the Thursday evening races.”
Race participants are asked to donate a non-perishable food item for the local food bank – at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church in Derry – as their weekly registration fee, and a total of 312.2 pounds of food were donated that evening. That impressive tally brought the total for the series to 914.7 pounds of food.
Top Londonderry finishers on June 30 included Brady Watts with a second place in the 11-year-old boys’ division, and Lily Maher placing third among the girl elevens.
The Thursday prior to that, June 23, provided another lovely summer night. And 138 runners signed on to the series, bringing the series total up to 437 participants.
The tally of non-perishable food donated that night came to 278.9 pounds, with the GDTC holding a goal of handing over a full ton of food to Saint Thomas’ pantry via donation by the end of the series.
That evening, Londonderry kids also bagged a pretty impressive total of five top-three finishes, with two town residents snaring first places in their divisions.
Parker Lewis took second place in the boys’ 9-year-old class; Jackson Lewis snagged third place among the boy tens; Lily Maher finished second in her 11-year-old class; Emma Donnelly proved unbeatable among the girls aged 13, and Jake Donnelly was number one among the guys in the open mile with his time of 5 minutes and 12 seconds.
There are four remaining fun runs in the 2016 series, happening July 7, 14, 21, and 28. Registration begins at 6 p.m. and races start at 6:30 p.m. GDTC members lead the kids in stretching and offer running tips.
Everyone gets a participation ribbon, and watermelon, water, and Gatorade are available to the youthful athletes. Kids are invited to run just one week or every week. For further information folks can visit gdtc.org.
Caption: Hundreds of young runners have been enjoying the annual fun runs held at the Pinkerton Academy track every Thursday night. Photos by Chris Paul