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Kids participate in the annual Coeur d'Alene IronKids race

About 600 kids ages 5 to 17 took big and little steps in IronKids at McEuen Park on a sunny morning, the day before Ironman 70.3 Coeur d'Alene.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Early in his half-mile IronKids race on Saturday, Beau Griffitts fell and cut his right knee.

It hurt, and the 3-year-old cried.

“He had a rough start,” said his dad, James Griffitts of Coeur d’Alene.

But Beau bounced back.

With a little help and encouragement from his dad, he got up and finished strong.

“You’re a tough boy,” father said of son after they shared a quiet moment together.

James Griffitts, who completed the 2012 Ironman Coeur d’Alene, and his wife love endurance sports and like to try new activities, including rock climbing, , as reported by our news partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Dad was proud of his son for pushing through the fun run, especially after falling down in the rush of kids charging out of the starting line, and not giving up.

“He's always been very timid, so this has been a big step,” he said.

About 600 kids ages 5 to 17 took big and little steps in IronKids at McEuen Park on a sunny morning, the day before Ironman 70.3 Coeur d'Alene. There was a short race for toddlers, and a half-mile and a mile for older kids.

Each received a T-shirt, medal, pancake breakfast and loud, loving cheers from family and plenty of praise from organizers.

Many of the kids were the children of Ironman athletes.

Whitney Johnson of Layton, Utah, ran the mile with her daughter, Lillian, 6, while son Wayland ran alone.

Dad Justin Johnson is competing in today’s Ironman 70.3, so while he sat out IronKids, he was there to support his family.

“They do it for the pancakes,” Justin said, smiling.

Both parents enjoy a healthy lifestyle as Whitney is an ultra runner with a 50-mile race coming up.

They encourage their children to be active and like to be outdoors.

“We’re just trying to have that be part of our family, something they can learn from an early age,” Justin Johnson said.

Wayland took that to heart. He was ready to run again.

“He wants to do the half-mile now,” his mom said.

Many health leaders say it's important to get children involved early in physical activity and keep them engaged.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Sports help children develop physical skills, get exercise, make friends, have fun, learn teamwork, learn to play fair, and improve self-esteem.”

It also said that, “Parents should take an active role in helping their child develop good sportsmanship. To help your child get the most out of sports, you need to be actively involved.”

And according to the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, sports activity helps children develop and improve cognitive skills, according to a study that tracked kids from kindergarten through fourth grade.

“Physical activity in general is associated with improved academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. Further, such activity can affect attitudes and academic behavior, including enhanced concentration, attention, and improved classroom behavior," according to the Project Play website.

Sawyer Glenn, 8, of Coeur d’Alene, finished second in the half-mile and was congratulated by his family at the finish line.

“I tried to get that other guy, then I got a little tired and he beat me,” Sawyer said.

His dad, David Glenn of Coeur d’Alene, is also competing in today’s Ironman and is feeling good about it, although he said he probably won’t match his son’s performance.

“I don’t think I’m going to do as well as he did,” he said, smiling.

David Glenn and his wife, Sarah, like to have their children involved in activities like IronKids because they believe it has many benefits.

“I think it's great to get them out and exercising, show them they can do hard things,” David Glenn said.

Their daughter Alice, 6, completed the mile and was smiling proudly afterward. She said she likes running, "because."

When asked if she wanted to do an Ironman someday, she smiled, glanced at her parents and nodded.

Yes.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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