Young runners honor Chelsea King at Invitational Mile

Event teaches importance of not running alone
Posted at 8:09 AM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 11:31:16-04

For the 9th straight year, elementary school students in San Diego will learn the importance of running safety, while honoring a teenager who was murdered during a run.

The Chelsea King Invitational Mile is Thursday afternoon at Point Loma Nazarene University. More than 200 students from 16 elementary schools will take part.

"We hold it to honor her memory and the characteristics that she stood for," says Mary Lou Baranowski-Drews, a PE teacher at Gage Elementary and the organizer of the event.

King was killed in 2010 while on a training run. Drews says, even though she never met King, what happened inspired her to make sure young runners knew how to stay safe when they hit the road.

Part of the event includes a "Buddy Run," where the kids learn to always run with a partner.

"It teaches them safety," says Drews. "That's what happened to Chelsea. She was out running alone on a training run. So it's important to remember not to go off by yourself."

To qualify for the run, boys must be able to run a 7-minute mile. Girls must be able to run an 8-minute mile. They also have to get a letter from their teachers saying they are good students. And the kids have to sign a pledge to be well-behaved.

Drews says King's parents have attended the run in the past. They say it embodies everything their daughter stood for.

"Her mom wrote me a letter," says Drews. "She says she really felt Chelsea's spirit there because it was sharing Chelsea's love of running with children."

While only the kids are allowed to run in the mile, anyone can come and watch to cheer them on. Drews says they've had Olympians and other famous runners take part to inspire the kids.