Marysville's All-Comers track meets proving to be very popular

LAKEWOOD — Bailey Kahler and Max Lovell can't keep their eyes off the Lakewood High School track.

What's holding the two 6-year-olds' attention isn't the flurry of activity accustom to the city of Marysville All-Comer's track meets — they just can't wait for their turn at the July 22 meet.

"I just really like to run," said Kahler, of Arlington, who admitted that she especially likes beating the boys.

Families from all over the Marysville, Arlington and Lake Stevens area are working on their track and field skills as just a week ago, a new record was set when 102 families came to participate.

"We came last week and now he goes out and jogs during the week to practice," said Erin Lovell of Marysville, Max's mother. "There is just a great atmosphere and it's really been the highlight of our July."

The program, started three years ago as part of the city of Marysville's Healthy Communities Project, which aims to promote an active lifestyle along with healthy eating habits. While other events are part of the project, including hikes, walks and classes, Jim Ballew, the city's Parks and Recreation Director, said that this is the most popular for a number of reasons.

"It's low-cost and sort of at your own pace," he said. "There are no expectations and we're just focused on participation. The important thing is to get people active and off the couch."

That goal, while continuous, has been met with local and national praise. Most recently it was awarded Hometown Spirit award by the Association of Washington Cities earlier this month.

In fact, the track meets are so popular that the city is considering opening track meets at both Lakewood and Marysville-Pilchuck high schools next summer, but funding could become an issue. It takes a mix of 16-20 volunteers and workers to facilitate the four field events and the running events every Thursday. The meets were moved from M-P this year because the high school is renovating the track over the summer. The $2.1 million project should be finished by the end of August.

"It would be great to have something like this all year," said Ballew, but once again it comes down to funding.

With one more meet scheduled for this summer — on July 29 — Ballew wished to thank his staff this year.

"They are just a special group of kids because they love working with the kids and each one of them has leadership skills," he said.

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