By Tamika MatthewsMay 21, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Stephen Redmon, 13, leads the pack of runners during America's Armed Forces Kids Run Saturday at Pullen Field. Redman won first place in the 9- to 13-year-old age group.
The 7-to 8-year-old runners took the track for a mile run Saturday during the Armed Forces Kids Run.
Grey skies with teasing sprays of rain did little to deter young athletes lined up for the 24th annual Armed Forces Kids Run at Pullen Field Saturday morning.
The run coincides with Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated on the third Saturday in May each year.
Seventy-five kids took to the track this year, a number that made Youth Sports Director Jerry Arrington proud.
"We didn't have huge numbers last year, but we had about 80 people sign up online," he said. "Plus, you always have some that sign up here on site. I'm very excited about the turnout."
This year's race differed from the 2008 outing in several ways. While all children received a certificate of completion again this year, first and second place medallions were also awarded to the top two finishers in each age group. "It's still a fun run, but we wanted to recognize those top winners," Arrington said.
Additionally, instead of all the athletes taking off at the same time, Arrington broke them up by age group - 5-to-6-year olds ran a half mile, 7-to-8 year olds ran a mile and ages 9 to 13 completed a two-mile run.
Arrington did this, he said, in the hopes each group of children would cheer for the athletes who were running and offer encouragement.
That, of course, didn't stop Arrington from offering his share of praises from the sidelines, either. "Come on, baby, you got it! Keep it moving!" he shouted.
The older children started the day's race. Thirteen-year-old Stephen J. Redmon was the first in his age group to cross the finish line. His father, Stephen T. Redmon, waited to congratulate him.
"I didn't think I'd win at first, because I was far back in second, but when the guy in first [Jake Smith] stopped to walk for a minute, I gained the lead and didn't give up," son Stephen said. "I just wanted to stick it out and win."
The elder Redmon, a collegiate and All-Army runner himself, said he never wanted to push running on his son, so he was pleased when his son asked to participate in the run for the first time this year. "That's the significance for me," he said. "I thought, 'Let him run, let's see what he can do.' He got out there and trained on his own. He took the initiative. That shows me that he's maturing and becoming his own man."