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"Winning is Finishing, Finishing is Winning." Rod Dixon brings Kidsmarathon to Torrington on June 7.

POSTED May 22, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: If you have read stories on Litchfield County Sports you have gathered that we play favorites when it comes to certain subjects near and dear to our hearts.

One of those passions is anything to do with Unified Sports, the second comes to Torrington on June 7 and if you attend the event, you will become and instant fan as well.

I’m talking about our friend Rod Dixon and Kidsmarathon.

We in the sports world talk about role models and hero’s far too often but in the case of what Mr. Dixon has done, we will grant him both labels, although he is too modest to wear them.

Kidsmarthon is an 8-10 week training program that allows kids to complete a full marathon by running short distances each week, culminating in the last of the 26.2 mile journey in front of hundreds of friends and families.

A key part of the program is focused on nutrition and getting elementary students, ages 7-12 to develop life-long fitness skills, combined with positive nutritional habits that can last a lifetime.

Their 5-2-1-0 slogan focuses on the following priorities that most of us could use to follow.

Five fruits or vegetables a day, two hours of outside time, one hour of screen time (phones, TV, etc.) and zero sugary drinks.

Most of us would be knocked out by the last item but if kids get in the habit before soda and the like are ingrained can’t be a bad thing.

This year, for the first year, the event is being held at the Robert H. Frost Complex at Torrington High School on Tuesday, June 7, starting at 4 p.m.

Torrington makes sense for Kidsmarathon based on its central location in Northwest Connecticut. In previous years, the event was held in Litchfield at Plum Hill the day before the Litchfield Hills Road Race.

15 schools will take part in the event this year, the largest contingency coming from the Torringford School with 162, followed by 84 from the Forbes School where Dixon will visit on Tuesday afternoon.

Dixon is to running what Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth was to baseball. He represented it, changed it, wore it and now looks to help re-shape (literally) the next generation of young people who may not get enough exercise, nutrition or guidance in both.

His resume is enormous. He won the 1983 New York City Marathon in dramatic fashion, catching and passing Geoff Smith in the 26th mile, winning by nine seconds.

It was after that race that his signature phrase, “Winning is Finishing, Finishing is Winning” was born.

After crossing the finish line and answering questions from the media at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park, Dixon looked to get away from the spotlight inside so he flipped his hood over his head and stepped back out into the rain.

What he saw astounded him.

People crossing the finish line were celebrating just as hard as he was two hours later. To them, that was victory. Surviving and finishing a marathon, just as Dixon had done in taking the top spot.

Over the years, Kidsmarathon has impacted thousands of young people’s lives at the right time to teach the, during grammar school.

Once the students get into high school, habits are that much harder to change.

Think about some of these numbers. In New Zealand (his home nation), over 10,000 young people participate. In Los Angeles, it’s 25,000.

In CT this spring, well over 5000 will take part in something that makes running and being healthy fun, not a punishment.

Combining exercise with nutrition is the foundation of what Dixon’s effort stands for.

Obesity is a huge problem facing our world today.

Childhood obesity numbers are stunning.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the rate of obese children (ages 7-12) was 7% in 1980. That number sat at 18% in 2012.

The numbers get worse as the child gets older.

Ages 12-19 were at 5% in 1980. It sat at an astounding 21% in 2012.

Today, over one third of all adolescence age children are considered obese.

That shouldn’t surprise us as the age of cell phones and video games have kept more of our children attached to the couch when they used to be outside whenever possible.

The 5-2-1-0 approach is a terrific one. Heck, anything is better than is happening now.

I encourage anyone who can to make their way down to the Robert H. Frost on June 7 at 4 p.m. to do so and witness something you will not soon forget.

“Winning is Finishing. Finishing is Winning”

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