JACKSON TWP.  In the early morning on July 27, there were about 60 runners stretching and warming up for competition in the athletic fields beside Jackson High School. The young athletes were getting ready to compete in the Paul & Carol David YMCA annual Healthy Kids Fun Run.

The runners’ ages ranged from four to 11 years old. Runs scheduled for the event included the 200 (for the youngest kids), 400 and 800 meter and a one-mile run.

Jackson High School’s head cross country coach Kevin Walsh has been coordinating the run with associate executive director of the David YMCA Pam Leddon since 2007. He said most of the participants were from running programs at the YMCA.

"What’s really cool is that a lot of the volunteers here today went through the same running programs when they were young," Walsh said. "Pam and I have been doing this fun run for 12 years. She is going to be leaving the Jackson YMCA to become the executive director at the new Canal Fulton YMCA. The programs will continue with someone else from the YMCA but Pam will be missed because she is part of the Jackson Township cross country community."

Walsh gave all the runners advice and encouragement at the starting line at each of the four races. He told runners, "Rule one is to smile and have fun and the second rule is to repeat rule one."

"The early morning race is a nice family thing to do to get families outside to enjoy the outdoors and it’s about being physically fit," Walsh said.