The Race to 200 – An EXTREMELY Motivating, TEAM Running Challenge

I’m always searching for ways to motivate my students to run. I struck gold several years ago when I first introduced the Race to 200. The premise is simple. How long will it take the entire class to run a combined total of 200 laps?

Although the name of the challenge is the Race to 200, the number 200 is a changing variable.

My First Grade classes were the first to take the challenge. Each class had 20 students and I knew I wanted them to run a quick pace for approximately 3-4 minutes. This meant the students would average 10 laps per person.

20 students X 10 laps per student = 200 laps

Race to 200 1st

What about classes with more or less than 20 students?

It didn’t take long for me to realize there was an easy-to-fix flaw in the formula. What if a student was absent or a class had 21 students rather than 20? Or how could I complete the challenge with my Third Grade double classes consisting of 40 students?

Race to 200 3rd

Each class in the above picture consisted of 38 students.

38 students X 10 laps person = 380 laps

The solution was simple. I posted the following question on the screen:

How long will it take your class to run an average of 10 laps per person?

Therefore, for a class of 19, the challenge would be called the Race to 190. For my Third Grade classes consisting of 40 students, the challenge would be called the Race to 400.

How is the challenge presented?

On the day of the challenge, we begin with a discussion on teamwork. I posed the following questions:

  • What will teamwork look and sound like during the Race to 200?
  • How can you be the best teammate for your team?
  • What variables can slow us down?
  • What happens to the team when we all maximize our effort?
  • How does running etiquette factor into the challenge?
  • Would anyone like to share any words of wisdom?

Following the discussion, students gather at the starting line. They spread out on the baseline to prevent a stampede. I position myself in the corner where they begin the challenge, ready to count laps with my tally counter.


When the class reaches their target number, I stop the clock and record their time. Each class will complete the challenge four times per year, each time with a goal of improving their previous score. I like to post each classes’ times on the wall for added motivation.

Factors to consider when setting a target number for your students:

  • How long do you want your students to run? The challenge looks a little different for my Fifth Grade students. Since I want them to run longer, I increase their target number. Therefore, they might average 12 laps per student rather than 10.
  • How long is a lap in your space? A large gym compared to a small gym will have two different target numbers.
  • What your goal as the instructor? For this challenge, I want my students to maintain a relatively quick pace. You may want your students to run a little longer to increase endurance.

The Race to 200 has been a game-changer for my program. My students look forward to the challenge each time we take it. It has become the ultimate bonding experience for each class.

Be sure to check out another popular running challenge I use with my students called, The 5-Minute Challenge!

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October’s “Fitness is Spooktacular” Fitness Challenge

It’s once again time to Flourish with Fitness by taking October’s Fitness is Spooktacular fitness challenge

Fitness is Spooktacular consists of three separate workouts. Each workout is represented by one of three spooky Halloween images; a jack-o’-lantern, a skeleton, and a vampire bat.

On the calendar, each day of the week is highlighted by one of the three images. For example, October 1st has an image of a jack-o’-lantern. Therefore, on that day, students complete the jack-o’-lantern workout. A student’s level of spook (level of fitness), determines how many rounds of the workout he/she completes. Students write their initials on the calendar each day they complete the workout. At the end of the month, they add up the total number of days completed, have their parents sign the bottom of the calendar and return it to a PE teacher for a certificate and shoe token.

By using the editable copy of the fitness challenge, you can add or substitute exercises that fit your students.

Click Fitness is SPOOKTACULAR – October for an editable copy of the challenge.

Click Fitness is SPOOKTACULAR – PDF for a PDF version of the challenge (this locks in the formatting).

Click Fitness-is-spooktacular-certif.-pdf for a copy of the completion certificate.

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YARD SCARS – My lawn looks like crap and I couldn’t be more proud

With every skinned knee and childhood scar, there is usually a glowing or harrowing story attached. Kid scars are like badges of honor or kid tattoos. Proof we played. Proof we fell and proof we got up and tried again and again.

Over the years our yard has also been the victim of scars. One glance and you can see where the grass slowly turned to dust where tackles were made, Wiffle balls pitched, and three-point shots mastered. Our once green lawn is now riddled with what I now proudly call YARD SCARS and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s why…

The more we play, the larger the scars!

About five years ago when my kids were 8, 10, and 11 years old, they played football in our front yard with friends. Their field was about 25 yards long by 15 yards wide with our house as one sideline and a sidewalk on the other. Not ideal for most, but perfect for them. After playing night after night, our yard was riddled with yard scars.

As parents, we all know time passes quickly as our children grow up, so one would think to witness my kids playing hard, having a blast with friends, and problem-solving for hours would be calming and joyful. However, at the time, I was completely stressed out about our lawn’s appearance. Every bare spot worn out by dives and sprints were all I could see.

I slowly felt myself evolve into cranky, old Mr. Shannon from my hometown. This was a neighbor who took pride in his yard. Every week, he manicured his baseball field size lawn as if prepping for the Masters. But instead of golfers showing up, my friends and I did, merely to retrieve a few hundred stray passes that flew over his fence.

Back in the ’70s, the quality of your lawn defined your character as a homeowner and emphasized you were a good neighbor. Mr. Shannon was no exception. He would chase us off his yard as soon as our Pro-Keds broke a blade of his grass. So, using Mr. Shannon as a reference point for yard maintenance, I come by the stress honestly.

Actual Pro-Keds – Remember these?

I also take pride in our landscaping but with all that football playing the once beautiful grass gradually faded from deep green to yellow, to tan, to just plain dirt.


Then a little thing I like to call perspective shook me back into reality.

God bless my wife. She had to talk me off the ledge. She REGULARLY reminded me we are fortunate to have active kids with friends who want to play OUTSIDE and at our house. If yard scars were our biggest problem, then consider us lucky. Then she’d add that line, as if reading from an empty nest script, “Imagine in five years when our lawn will be that boring, unscathed green …we’ll miss our scarred up yard soon enough.”

She was right. Perspective.

Five years later, my lawn looks crappier than ever and I couldn’t be more thankful! I still take the same pride in mowing, weeding, edging and blowing, but in a time when digital devices can often dominate a child’s day, my kids continue to appreciate playing outside. As a result, there are yard scars of different sizes, shapes, and levels of severity.

There’s a large triangular-shaped scar under our basketball hoop from the hours of shooting games they periodically play. Two of my favorite scars are the oval-shaped pitching mound, and the sunken and severely bare batter’s box from countless innings of Wiffle ball. First, second and third bases are also scarred so there’s no longer a need to drop Frisbees or sweatshirts as bases.



Above: Pitcher’s mound, batter’s box, and first base in our backyard.

Have you ever set up a badminton court in your backyard? If not prepare yourself for the utter destruction of nearly every blade of grass within the rectangular boundary. And if you play after a light to moderate rain, yard scars can quickly become a mud pit! AWESOME!


As I watch our children grow up and move away too quickly, here’s what I’ve learned. Enjoy the yard scars now, the grass will grow back.

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