Activity Report: Running Is My High 2011

Completed 3/12/11 with 280 participants


This year was the Native American Health Center’s 10th annual Running is My High.   On the sunny morning of March 12th, 2011, hundreds of people gathered at Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland to walk, run, or cheer on their community. We had over 275 people take on the Lake Merritt loop this year and give it their best effort, including an 81 year-old woman!
The theme this year was “Return to Traditions,” which inspired a focus on the long list of healthy traditions in Native American culture. The various booths and activities all complimented this theme by focusing on healthy mind, body, spirit, and environment through traditional practices. The day kicked off with opening prayer and sage burning, an honoring song on the drum, and a speech about the importance of healthy traditions in the Native community. The day continued with the 5K and 10K races, more drumming, stress management and relaxation instruction, honoring of elders and of children, and a healthy vegan meal. 
This year we were privileged to have 30 middle school students participate from one of NAHC’s school-based clinics. For almost all these students, this was a first-time experience and they were very excited and proud to complete the walk. In addition, a smaller group of them entertained us after the race with a special dance performance. With all the problems facing today’s youth, including a tripling of the childhood obesity rate in the last 30 years, we were honored and proud to have these students at the event and getting excited about physical activity.
With environmental concern growing across the globe, we again focused on making Running Is My High a green, environmentally-friendly event. This year we took the extra step to purchase biodegradable cups for our runners and walkers as well as biodegradable utensils during the meal so that nearly all the waste from the event could be composted. We also gifted runners with 100% organic cotton t-shirts and a biodegradable jute tote bag so that people can bring their own bag to the grocery store and stop filling our landfills with plastic bags.

We would like to thank the community for keeping this event alive! We would also like to thank the Native American Health Center’s Family & Child Guidance Clinic and Nutrition & Fitness Departments for co-sponsoring this event. A special thank you is extended to Dr. Christine E. Hansen’s Dental Office of Palo Alto and Teammates for Kids Foundation for their continued support, and to our donors including Piedmont Grocery, Downtown Oakland YMCA, Bill’s Trading Post, Gathering Tribes, Peet’s Coffee, Noah’s Bagels, and Berkeley Bowl. We would also like to thank the alcohol recovery lodges for their participation and friendly competition in this event. Finally, thank you to all who volunteered and participated in our tenth annual Running Is My High 2011. We could not have done this without your help and support!

Best Features:
The best feature was the large participation on the part of NAHC staff, medical providers, the school-based clinic, the alcohol recovery lodges, native organizations, and the native community at large. Other great features included Stress Management tent with yoga, meditation, sage burning, and massage hosted by the Family and Child Guidance; the environmentally-friendly gifts; the healthy meal; and the diverse collection of booths and organizations that hosted booths.

Creative Features:
The most creative thing was making all of our gifts environmentally-friendly. All participants received 100% organic cotton t-shirts and biodegradable jute tote bags so that people can bring their own bags to the grocery store. Furthermore the food and drinks were all served with biodegradable cups and utensils, making this Running is My High the most green event we have offered.

The main challenge this year was the fact that we were using a new timing company that uses electronic chip timers that participants tie onto their shoes. This required some extra planning and preparation to work with a brand new company. It was a new experience for almost all our participants, and some stopped a few feet too early and thus the electronic sensors did not record their race time. But for the most part it went remarkably well and people enjoyed having the immediate results from the electronic shoe timers.

Future Plans:
We will continue to put on Running is My High and cheering on our community to be active and healthy everyday!

Lessons Learned

For next year we will put a big banner across the true finish line so that people do not stop too early and miss the electronic pads that record their race time. We will also cut off registration by 8:45 so that the timing company is not so rushed in recording last-minute registrees into the database.
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