Students reach halfway point in Northfield Mile Marathon

 Easton Palser gives principal John Wiedeman a high-five as he walks around the school. Palser dressed as Wiedeman for Teacher Twinning Tuesday for homecoming week. His sister, Parker, walks behind him.

Students are showing off their speed and perseverance as they participate in the annual Northfield Elementary Mile Marathon.

“We plan for 30 days of the marathon, in case of weather,” Troy Svoboda, Northfield’s physical education teacher, said. “They run three laps around the school and playground each day, which comes out to a mile.”

As of Wednesday, the students reached the halfway mark as they move toward their goal of completing a full marathon (26.2 miles) of running or walking.

“Sometimes, I walk. Sometimes, I run,” said first grader Deborah Sunmbola. “I run laps here and end up over by the playground.”

Sunmbola said her favorite part is jogging.

The students run or walk along the sidewalk at the school and with the help of volunteers like retired teachers and parents, Svoboda can keep the students safe.

“We’ve got great helpers,” he said. “It works great when we have great volunteers. That way if a kid falls, they can help and basically to make sure kids stay on the sidewalk and are safe.”

Aside from the teachers, parents and grandparents volunteering, the Gering Police Department also patrols the area.

One hundred students signed up for this year’s marathon. On Tuesday morning, 87 students made their way around the school after checking in with resource teacher Candace Sherfey. Sherfey said she enjoys helping with the marathon and getting to know the students.

“I just enjoy that interaction with the kids on a daily basis,” she said. “Seeing the kids and getting to know them is my favorite. I used to teach first grade, so it gave me a chance to know the kids coming in like kindergarten and seeing my former students every day.”

Jarelyn Rodriquez and Joselyn Martinez are in their third year running in the marathon and say it’s taught them the importance of exercise.

“It’s fun and it’s healthy,” Rodriquez said. “You get to communicate with friends and talk about how that morning was.”

Martinez agreed the morning exercise is good.

“I learned that it’s healthy to run,” she said. “It gets easier every year.”

After the students finish their three laps before starting their school day, they check back in with Sherfey, who marks down their progress.

“I like watching them accomplish a mile every day,” Sherfey said.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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