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AP Top Sports News At 7:23 p.m. EST

CHARLESTON, W.Va.--For these youngsters, running runs in the family.

More than a dozen children lined up Sunday afternoon near the corner of 31st Street and Virginia Avenue in Kanawha City to take part in the Children's Fun Run, sponsored by the City of Charleston and Tallman Track Club.

It was part of the city's annual winter run/walk series - so in addition to distance, the children faced the elements.

They bundled up against the chilly air to run roughly 400 meters, about two blocks up and back.

The majority of the children participating had no problem with the 400-meter race - most of them were used to running with their parents.

Take Maggie Odour, for example. This Putnam County 6-year-old has running in her genes.

Maggie and her mother, Shelly Young, often run together through wooded areas and parks near their home. Shelly, a soccer coach and teacher at Hurricane High School, was a distance runner and played soccer at the University of Charleston. Shelly's mother Connie also is a distance runner.

The West Teays Elementary kindergartner beat out several of the older kids to place first with a time of 2 minutes, 6 seconds. Maggie heard about the race and told her mom she wanted to run, too.

"I really like to run," she said after finishing. "It's really fun, and if I take my dog its more fun."

Shelly was competing in Sunday's 10K run. Connie, Maggie's grandmother, usually competes as well, but sat out Sunday to watch her granddaughter while Shelly raced.

"I think she thinks its normal because everyone in our family runs," Shelly said of Maggie.

Connie Young said Maggie did a great job in her race Sunday.

"She's always ran a little bit with us," Connie said. "I think it's good for children to be active."

Maggie is involved in dance, soccer, swimming and basketball, which she plays with two other children who raced Sunday.

Matthew and Michael Duncan, 7 and 5 respectively, took part in Sunday's race because their father Brian Duncan was running in the 10K. Their mother Melissa would watch over them while Brian ran.

Matthew, a first-grader at Scott Teays Elementary, said he liked to run fast. His younger brother Michael agreed that running fast was the best.

"They ran great today," Brian said. "We're very proud of them."

Charlie Baldwin, 7, of Charleston had serious competition Sunday in the form of his little brother Simon, 6. Even baby brother Gavin, 3, joined in the fun and ran along with the boys. Their mother Sue was participating in the 10K race.

"I wanted to run today because I'm a runner and it's good exercise," said Charlie, a first-grader at Holz Elementary. 

Charlie thought he did well in Sunday's race. Simon's opinion of his own performance wasn't so positive.

"I was awful," he said.

"I thought you did well," his father, Chuck, told him.

The boy started off the race with a sprint but quickly tired himself out, Chuck explained. He told his son to pace himself for the next race and that he would do better.

W.K. Munsey, co-race coordinator, said this was the first year organizers have included children in the series of races. Sunday's event was the last leg of the Winter Run Series. The Tallman Track Club and the city had a 5K run and 3K walk in December, and an 8K run and 4K walk in January. Sunday's event was a 10K run and 5K walk. An estimated 200 people participated.

He said the group also plans to host a children's running event before this year's Charleston Distance Run, billed as the last 15-mile race in the country. The children's event is set for 6:25 p.m. Sept. 2.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.

 


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