Two Hoover Elementary School teachers challenged one another to run 100 miles the final month of the school year, inviting students to join them on Fridays.
ESL teacher Julianna Scheumann and special education teacher Travis Tucker did their best to outrun each other this year.
The two initiated their first friendly competition during Hoover’s annual track and field day in 2012. They encouraged students to cheer them on as they raced around the track.
Last year, Scheumann and Tucker expanded the competition, each vowing to run farther than the other over the last month of the school year. They invited students to join them before school the last four Fridays of the school year, and nearly 50 students joined them on average, according to Scheumann, who won the wager and gave Tucker a pie in the face.
This year, Scheumann and Tucker participated in a similar challenge, and the number of students jogging alongside the teachers doubled.
“It started out small and just kept growing and growing,” Principal Gwen Sherburne said.
The final Friday of the competition, June 6, students were joined by a mystery runner wearing the school mascot costume. Health para Robyn Anderson masqueraded as Herbie the Gray Wolf before revealing herself to the kids.
“I thought the kids would catch me,” she said. She thought that her scrubs, short height and the fact that she walks the track daily at lunch might tip off the students, but they were none the wiser.
Ken Young, the school’s DARE officer for the past 14 years, also joined kids on the track June 6.
Each week, students who run with Scheumann and Tucker are given a sticker to give a vote of confidence to one of the two educators.
“I heard that you were losing,” a boy said to Tucker with a smirk, giving him the sympathy vote last week.
The teachers finished logging their jogs June 9 and announced a tie in a video shown to students the last day of school. Both ran 118 miles.
The hope is that the contest’s excitement will inspire kids to keep moving this summer, Tucker said. “We want to get them out, we want to get them exercising,” he said.
Olivia Koester is at firstname.lastname@example.org