Asking the members of the Galloping Gators what they like about the lunchtime running club at Glenwood Elementary is no easy task. These Gators are far too focused on traveling in laps around their building to stop for conversation or a photo opportunity.
Those willing to pause briefly share a handful of reasons they love to run, ranging from the charms and medals they can earn for achieving significant milestones (five to 26.2 miles) to the pure joy of exercise. Mostly, it seems, they run because it's fun.
Tracking the laps and mileage equivalent is handled by volunteers and staff who are kept busy by the nearly 100 percent participation rate at the school.
By the end of February, the Tuesday and Thursday lunchtime runners amassed over 35,000 laps equaling a staggering 8,757.75 miles. That's the equivalent of running from the Glenwood playground in Lake Stevens to Mattanawcook Pond in Maine (the long way around) with stops in San Diego, California, Orlando, Florida and Fargo, North Dakota.
Charts in the hallway track the runners by classroom with paper sneakers honoring students who have completed 20 laps or five miles. By hitting the marathon mark of 26.2 miles, runners earn a marathon medal and entry into the elite Gator Swamp where their names appear on the backs of green paper alligators.
To date, 94 students have logged enough miles to swim in the swamp and eight of these students have done it twice, tallying over 209.6 laps each or 54.2 miles.
There appears to be no stopping the Galloping Gators. At this pace we suspect the hallways at Glenwood Elementary will be overrun with paper sneakers and smiling green alligators by the end of the school year.