FAIRMOUNT – With temperatures hovering around freezing Saturday morning, hundreds of students with Students Run Philly Style took to the streets, including a group led by high school Spanish teacher Kayley Lankford.
“Students Run Philly Style is a long-distance mentoring group. The students show up, they get free sneakers, free running gear and free entrances to all the races, as long as they keep running,” Lankford explained.
And, run they did. The bright blue shirts could be seen sprinkled throughout the 8K and half-marathon races that took place Saturday. The runners made sure they stretched properly and were mentally ready for the race.
“I was walking them through what they’re going to experience since this is all new to them. Most of them don’t speak English, or they’re learning English. Most of them are new to this country. So, making sure they know what they’re going to experience so they all enjoy it,” Lankford said.
Jaiden Hill ran the 8K, but it is just an appetizer for the full marathon he’s running Sunday. He says he has confidence in his ability, thanks to the support system of the group. “Mentally, I got my music and I got my coach coaching me on and I got everybody here.”
Lankford says many of the students had never run before in the Philadelphia Marathon setting and uses that as an example for future runners that, yes, they too can run and train enough to even run a marathon someday. “Students Run Philly Style is for everyone. You don’t have to consider yourself an athlete. I never considered myself a runner, even until recent years. Just by showing up, you get these skills and you become one. Everybody is able to be a runner.”