Prior to the the annual mini marathon at Tuesday, students received some words of encouragement from someone well versed in setting and achieving goals.
"In running, like in life, you set goals and you challenge yourself and the more challenging the goal, the greater the reward," said Maria Michta, a Sachem grad and national race walking champion.
"That doesn't mean it's easy," added Michta, who is just weeks away from taking part in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. "It definitely won't be easy, but it will be really rewarding."
Chippewa's mini marathon, which began in 1980 and ran successfully until 1995, was dormant until 2007 when teachers such as Jim Byrne helped to bring it back to life.
On Tuesday, there was nothing dormant about the whirlwind of activity on Chippewa's field and basketball court. Besides the main event, students sang and danced to the tunes of DJ Tony Cannone, a 1980 Chippewa graduate.
Another Chippewa graduate and a staple at recent mini marathons, Gary Comstock, now a Sachem North teacher, pumped up students before the races with chants of "Chip, Chip, Chippewa!"
"I'm really excited to be here," said Comstock, who won the first mini marathon in 1980. "I love coming back and seeing you guys. The Chippewa Mini Marathon is all about exercise for life. It's really a life goal to stay in shape."
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The mini marathon is named in honor of Grace Peshkur, a former Chippewa student who passed away in 2009. A poster of Grace sitting in her wheelchair sporting a Chippewa Mini Marathon t-shirt (along with a photo of her being pushed along as she competed in the mini marathon) stood on the basketball court to remind students what the day was all about.
"I have to say I have never met another child who had challenges to meet and who worked so hard and so long to meet all of those challenges and always be the best that she could do and we are very very proud to have this marathon named in her honor," Chippewa Principal Patricia Aubrey told the students.
Sachem Superintendent Jim Nolan and athletic directors Pete Blieberg and Gary Beutel were also on hand at the mini marathon. A parent/teacher race took place before the students got the chance to show off their running skills.
We'll have a full photo gallery from the mini marathon on Patch Thursday. In the meantime, check out our album from the day's events on our Facebook page here.