After finishing Sunday’s 1-mile KiDS ROCK race in Nashville, Campbell, a middle school student from Hendersonville, TN, talked about takeaways from an event the young runner has been participating in since kindergarten.
“I love that it teaches you endurance, and not just in running but in everything,” Campbell said.
Campbell was one of 172 runners competing at the 2017 KiDS ROCK Nashville presented by YMCA of Middle Tennessee for the Nannie Berry Elementary School team. The race provides a way to set a goal and then achieve it.
“I love being on the Nannie Berry team, because they help you with your goals and they help you pace yourself, show you how to run and get better each year,” Campbell said, who has been inspired so much by her years of training for the event she has joined her middle school cross country team.
It helps to be able to compete in the event alongside her mother, Jama Cook, and cousin, Lola.
“It’s good for both of us to do it, because she (Cook) helps me and I help her, and sometimes we can run on the weekends together,” Campbell said.
For Lola, who has been competing in the event since kindergarten, well, “I love just challenging myself to push to the finish line.”
Cook has been the Nannie Berry running captain for the past seven years. The team convenes in January after the runners sign up. It is a school-wide effort. Teachers volunteer their time to help the students train twice a week after school.
“We train them to be able to run without stopping,” she said.
The students and teachers spend months preparing for the event and, as the years have passed, word has spread. Students enjoy the experience so much, more show up to participate.
“It’s a great venue for me and our school, because the kids have a goal,” Cook said. “They have an end point. They start training and they know that their final destination is Nashville for the KiDS ROCK race. It’s super fun. The older kids tell the younger kids about it, so we always have a lot of interest in it.”
This year, though, the event took on a special significance for everyone competing on the Nannie Berry team. This year, the participants were competing for #TaylorStrong.
The group was running for Hendersonville High School teacher and coach Chris Taylor, who lost his battle with cancer a few months prior.
“To show them love and to honor that family, we dedicated our season to coach Taylor,” Cook said.
Not only did the group celebrate Taylor’s memory on Sunday, but Cook and several other teachers also ran the Rock ’n’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon to honor his memory one day earlier.
For everyone who competed for Nannie Berry in the KiDS ROCK race, the day was about accomplishing a goal, setting a foundation for a healthy future and a lifetime of running, while running for someone who was a special figure in the community.
It was a good day.
“Running is a lifelong sport,” Cook said. “It’s a passion you can fall in love with. It’s something you can do with your friends. Marathons aren’t about winning. Marathons are about finishing. It’s something you can do at any age on any day. The road is always open.”
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