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Neither mud, suds nor walls can stop kids on obstacle course

Red Rover Fitness has a simple goal: to get kids sweating and smiling at the same time.

The SAFE elementary program also has a simple goal: to provide fun activities focused on academics but including elements of physical fitness and community engagement.

Those two goals came together at the Pahrump Southern Nye County 4-H annex Saturday afternoon when Red Rover Fitness brought its Obstacle Course Race to town.

SAFE Program Director Ashley Hall and Josh Melver of Red Rover Fitness were pleased with how the event’s debut in Pahrump went.

“Overall it was a really exciting event,” Hall said. “It was well-received. We had a great turnout. We had some kids in the SAFE program, some kids who are not enrolled in the SAFE program, and we had some kids from Vegas show up.”

“The event went great,” said Melver, who served as the event host. “There were lots of happy kids and parents during and after the event.”

The course, which extended for almost a mile just west of the annex along Calvada Boulevard, included a variety of obstacles to climb over, around or through. From the small mud pit at the very beginning to a sudsy tunnel near the end, racers had a variety of challenges along the route.

“This was our first competitive event where the venue was perfect for us to introduce bubbles and mud into the race, and the kids really liked those parts,” Melver said. “They provided a good medium for lots of great pictures.”

Red Rover Fitness already has held three obstacle course races this spring in Las Vegas, and it was therefore no surprise that Las Vegas kids won each of the races, which were divided into three divisions: kindergarten and first-graders, second- and third-graders and fourth- and fifth-graders.

The fastest Pahrump runners were Kamden Jones of Floyd Elementary, who finished fourth in the K-1 race in 8 minutes, 38 seconds, 42 seconds behind the winner; Jack Race of Manse Elementary, who placed fifth in the 2-3 race in 8:51, 56 seconds after the winner crossed the finish line, and Sean Green of Hafen Elementary School, whose time of 18:17 in the 4-5 race was 3:54 behind the winner.

But the race wasn’t really about winning, although there were prizes for the best times. The SAFE program, funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, includes a physical fitness component because, as Hall noted, only 24.9 percent of high school students and 29.8 percent of middle school students report engaging in physical activity that increased their heart rates each day.

“So if so few of our older youth are getting the physical activity they need daily, maybe we can give our younger youth the motivation and skills they need to ensure they meet the physical activity levels recommended for their health,” Hall said. “We hope, and will try to ensure, that those skills can carry on into middle and high school.”

Of course, the benefits of exercise go well beyond weight and body mass.

“Physical activity through play is also a great way to foster positive relationships between students, work out excess energy from the school day, increase self esteem, promote better behaviors at home and in the classroom, and to promote a healthy lifestyle, which is a protective factor against many problems later in life, including drug and alcohol use,” Hall explained.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant requires 2 percent of SAFE offerings be physical fitness and another 2 percent must focus on community engagement, Hall said. “Red Rover helps us to meet both of those requirements,” she added.

Melver understood the role played by the SAFE program and was appreciative of the opportunity to bring the obstacle course to Pahrump.

“I have to thank Ashley Hall and her team from the NyE Communities Coalition and the SAFE program, who were instrumental in establishing the whole relationship,” he said. “Pahrump was so welcoming, from the participants and their families who were so polite and supportive, to Nye County, who let us use the venue, to the 4H group who did concessions and the awesome volunteers from Americorps. We even had some local businesses who asked to be included next time in the event.”

For students in the SAFE program, the race came after six weeks of an eight-week program designed to improve their fitness. About the only issue Hall had was the size of the event.

“We’re working on next year’s budget now, but maybe we can do fall and spring events, because 120 kids is a bit too many.”

Besides, decreasing the number of racers in each event potentially could mean an even better experience for them.

“Our goal for next year is bigger and better,” Hall said. Melver agreed.

“We can’t wait to come back,” he said.

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