The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

May 6, 2011


BikeRun gets kids fit; grows community spirit


By EVE MARX
Founders and primary leaders of the Bedford Central School District Elementary BikeRun: Jennifer Magee of Bedford Corners, finance/administration chairman; Alex Kozersky, Mount Kisco, race director; and Christina Dochtermann of Bedford Hills, chairman.
 

On Sunday, May 22, 250 elementary school-age children from the Bedford Central School District will be participating in a brand-new event that hopefully will become an annual affair. Under the auspices of the Bedford Central School District and one super-motivated parent, the first K5 BikeRun will take place in Mount Kisco at Leonard Park. Be there or be square.

Dubbed a duathlon by the parent, Christina Dochtermann, who conceived of the idea, BikeRun is a community-oriented bicycling/running endeavor that gives kids a chance to participate in a genuine athletic event that tests their physical fitness.

“This is a fun and productive way to actualize the school district’s health, fitness and wellness goals,” Ms. Dochtermann said. “This is a wellness/community spirit event, not a competitive event or a fundraising effort.”

Following a registration outreach to 2,088 students enrolled in the district’s five elementary schools, a largely paper free campaign (a full-page ad for the event appeared in this newspaper, the media sponsor, on March 25), all the 250 available slots for participation were filled within days.

“The registration is fully booked,” Ms. Dochtermann exclaimed in a recent phone interview. “We are assembling a small wait list for late registrants, but we’re very excited by the resounding enthusiasm, support and interest we’ve achieved. We’re off to a tremendous start,” she said.


Race director maps the course

Race director Alex Kozersky will be mapping the final course and logistics. The interior road in Leonard Park will be used for the bike portion, and the kids will run on the grass field. The experience will be very professional, as there will be micro-chip timing, bike catchers and race markings.

Mr. Kozersky is a local parent and volunteer from Mount Kisco with two children in the Bedford Central School District. A participant in triathlons, duathlons and road races, Mr. Kozersky represents a group of parents and representatives from the school district who have volunteered to coordinate the event and ensure that it is a success.

According to Mr. Kozersky, children from the five elementary schools of the Bedford Central School District will bike on the roads within Leonard Park and then run around the grass fields, finishing by the picnic area near the town pool.

Fourth- and fifth-graders will bike two miles and run one mile; second- and third-graders will bike one mile and run a half mile; and the kindergartners and first-graders will bike a half mile and run a quarter mile. “We will also hold modified race divisions for students with disabilities with distances that vary by age and grade,” he said.

The courses are, of course, geared to children of a young age. “We created the Bedford Central School District Elementary BikeRun with the vision that kids should enjoy being kids,” Ms. Dochtermann said. “These are classic recreational activities. Our event is not a competition, but an opportunity to make a commitment to train, participate and finish an event with their friends, families and fellow students present to cheer them on,” she said. Training wheels will be allowed for kindergartners and first-graders, and there will be two heats for children with disabilities and another for razor scooters and wheelchairs.

To calculate distances, the committee researched other bi- and triathlon events for similar age groups, as well as consulting with the district’s athletic department. “We feel the kids will be challenged, but our requirements are very achievable,” Ms. Dochtermann said.

No winners or place awards will be given. “The focus is on participation and completion,” Ms. Dochtermann said. “Times will be available online post event.” Grade groupings include kindergarten and first; second and third; fourth and fifth. Modified kindergarten through second, and third- through fifth-grade heats will be held for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities will also have a high school student paired with them as their personal trainer and BikeRun buddy.

According to Mr. Kozersky, the focus of the event is completion and participation. “We will have children with various levels of fitness participating, and we wanted to set distances that gave them something to work toward in the months leading up to the event but yet wouldn’t be so challenging that they would not be able to complete the race,” Mr. Kozersky. “Every participant will receive a finisher’s medal. We would like the children to be proud of what they have accomplished and continue to be active throughout the year and hopefully participate again next year.”


Growing community support

BikeRun was conceived in June 2010, and gained momentum in October. Ms. Dochtermann said she got the idea after her sons participated in a similar event in Greenwich.

“Last year my boys got involved in some triathlons, and I saw how good it was for them to set a goal of training,” she said. “It brought out so much in them that we’d never experienced with them before, and a real sense of accomplishment.” She said it even blossomed into a family affair. “My parents came up from Florida to see them participate, and it gave our family something to rally around. It was great.”

Ms. Dochtermann said she realized there was nothing similar in her own backyard. So she contacted Beth Staropoli, Athletic Director of the Bedford Central School District; the two knew each other from the school’s Wellness Committee. Soon she was talking it up to Dr. Jere Hochman, Bedford Central School District Superintendent. A steering committee was formed and it was immediately decided that BikeRun would be a revenue neutral event and not any burden on the district. “It’s all volunteer-based and looking for the community for support,” Ms. Dochtermann said. “In no way does it tap into the school budget.”

The program received cooperation from the Mount Kisco Parks and Recreation Commission for use of Leonard Park, and the Mount Kisco Medical Group granted use of their parking lots for overflow parking.

“As with any event of this size there were challenges,” Mr. Kozersky said. “The first was selecting a venue for the race that met our needs with flat terrain for biking and running and that was centrally located within the district.”

He said the Town of Mount Kisco was excited about this idea as well and offered the use of Leonard Park for the event.

Another challenge was funding for the event. “We chose to keep registration cost as low as possible to ensure that the event was affordable,” Mr. Kozersky said. “We also wanted to make the event as true to a real multi-sport event as possible with chip timing, online registration and finishers medals, which meant that we needed to find sponsors and donations to cover some of that cost.”

Sponsors include OptumHealth, the Mount Kisco Medical Group and the Saw Mill Club. The Record-Review is media sponsor; Furman Printing is print sponsor and supplied post consumer recycled/recyclable stock. Bicycle World in Mount Kisco is bike sponsor and is offering a discount on pre-race bike tuneups and accessories, in addition to a raffle. They will also be on-site at the event for safety checks and help with any mechanical issues/support. Panera Bread in Bedford Hills is providing fresh bagels for all attendees and participants. Additional sponsors include Frannie’s Goodie Shop,  a new yogurt shop in Mount Kisco, and Johnny Rocket. Committee members are chairman and communications director Christina Dochtermann, race director Alex Kozersky, finance and administration chairman Jennifer Magee, Bedford Central School District athletic director Beth Staropoli, and environmental/green consultant and assistant race director Kevin Long. 

Ms. Staropoli said professional training tips for kids are available on the BikeRun website, www.bcsdny.org/K5BikeRun2011.

She added that one of the simplest things parents can do to help their kids prepare for BikeRun is to take family walks before dinner. “Start with walking and then work up to a jog,” she said. “It’s all about building up slowly. Kids are no different than adults; they like to have goals.” Ms. Staropoli said that she encourages kids who aren’t participating to come and watch. “This is how you get the physical fitness bug, getting caught up in the energy when you’re there.” She said she believed all the distances are realistic for the different age groups. “I hope this will be an annual event,” Ms. Staropoli said. “In my mind it’s already there.”

Although BikeRun’s registration is already filled, a wait list is forming. Registration is $10. For more information, log on to the website. Otherwise, see you May 22.


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

 

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