3K gets North Suffolk moving

Published 9:38 pm Saturday, March 22, 2014

On Saturday morning, runners and walkers at Creekside Elementary School set out on the first America Rocks 3K, organized by the Salvation Army and Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community.

On Saturday morning, runners and walkers at Creekside Elementary School set out on the first America Rocks 3K, organized by the Salvation Army and Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community.

A fun run/walk that organizers hope to make an annual event — and perhaps even expand to other schools — got off to a winning start at Creekside Elementary on Saturday.

With the mercury perhaps slightly lower than many had expected, a strong field of runners and walkers turned out bright and early for the America Rocks 3K, an initiative of the Salvation Army and Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community.

“The thing is to get the community to come together for exercise and fitness, and to help kids stay enlightened — to make a difference in the community,” said LaTasha Colander Clark, an Olympic track gold medalist who started the America Rocks community awards program, of which Saturday’s event was an extension, after joining the Salvation Army in Suffolk.

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“They can help others stay in shape, and they can help others get good grades. To get good grades you have to be fit. To make a difference, you have to be fit. You have to get up in the morning and be motivated.”

Elisa Gaillard led a group Zumba session before runners and walkers assembled at the starting line. The course was thrice around the school campus, with the winning time in the vicinity of 11 minutes.

Robbie Laughton, executive director of the partnership, said the event was “exactly what the partnership has been looking for.”

“I have really wanted to have an event that was more catered to the youth,” he said. “When LaTasha approached me about an idea she had, I said, ‘That’s the exact same idea I had!’

“Creekside had talked to us about doing an event some time; it’s a great way to partner with everyone.”

Other event supporters included the North Suffolk Chick-fil-A and Shaffer Real Estate, while several members of the Suffolk and Chesapeake units of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia rose early to pound the pavement around Creekside.

At the end of the race, Clark bestowed the latest America Rocks award on Erik Johnson, physical education teacher at Creekside Elementary School.

“I’m completely baffled by it, to be honest,” Johnson said. “I knew nothing about it.”

The 3K was “fitness stuff outside of school that PE teachers can only hope for,” he added.

Laughton said, “We hope this becomes a series of events at other elementary schools.”