By Beth Peralta
More than 10 years ago, my then-fiancé came home from his teaching job at Bottenfield Elementary School and told me about a 5K walk/run that his school was participating in that December. The race was cold and I was pretty slow, but I finished and it rekindled the love for running that I still have today. I found myself thinking about that first race last night while I was running in my C-U neighborhood.
The teacher that organized the participation in the race by the school – teachers, staff, and students – was Wendy Huckstadt.
“Wendy’s greatest talent was motivating students and fellow staff into being active in ways they normally would not on their own. Her energy for active lifestyles was contagious throughout the school,” said coach and Bottenfield fourth grade teacher, Andrew Peralta.
Wendy taught at Bottenfield for 10 years as a PE teacher before she lost her fight to cancer in 2013. During her tenure there, she inspired and motivated many students and colleagues to be healthy and active. In honor of her, fellow teachers have rebooted the Bottenfield Mileage Club, started a brand-new cross country team, and are planning their very first Huckstadt Hustle 5K this spring.
According to its website, the Mileage Club is open to all students of Bottenfield Elementary. Students are able to run during recess, after school, or during PE to log miles. Running miles at home counts, too! For each two miles, students earn a plastic foot charm to wear on a chain around their neck. The cross country team is brand-new and open to third- through fifth-graders only. The team meets twice weekly after school and is training together for running both the Huckstadt Hustle 5K and the Presence Health 5K, which is part of the Illinois Marathon Weekend!
“Students are enjoying pushing themselves to run better and better each day, while getting to know each other better outside of the classroom. We’re also stressing how a win isn’t about how fast you are, but the fact that you keep going,” explained Peralta.
While the Mileage Club and cross country team are exclusive for students at the school, the Huckstadt Hustle 5K is an event for the whole community to enjoy!
What: Huckstadt Hustle 5K (3.1 miles) Run/Walk
Where: Bottenfield Elementary School, 1801 S. Prospect Ave, Champaign
When: Saturday, March 12 – start time 9:00 a.m.
Registration Info: Registration is $20 for those 15 and older and $15 for those under 15. You can register at the secure link here!
For more details, including course map, packet pick-up, and sponsorship information, visit the 5K’s website here. See you on the course!