December 12 2017
Meet Rhonda-Marie and Steven Parke, two ultrarunners who discovered their love for each other through running.
Running has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old. I ran track in junior high school and I have been in love with the sport ever since. It helped me mature as a person, while shaping my life in so many ways.
One of my favorite things about running has always been sharing my enthusiasm with others. This passion led me to start a children’s track and field club when I was living in Parker, Colo. I remembered how running helped me growing up, and I wanted to make sure young people in my area had the same opportunities. I worked as the head coach of the Parker Panthers for six years before passing the baton.
At that point, I wanted to take my goal of helping kids get fit to a larger platform. I threw all my energy into developing a nonprofit called Kids Running America (KRA). The organization was officially founded in 2007 with the mission of engaging young people in physical activity to perpetuate a healthy lifestyle.
Our group started small, with just 72 children, but over the past six years, we’ve been able to reach 8,400 in the state of Colorado and beyond. When children enroll in the program, they make a commitment to complete a full marathon (26.2 miles) by adding up short runs over the course of a few weeks. Reaching this goal helps them build self-esteem, while combating our country’s childhood obesity epidemic.
To be the best director of KRA I can be, it’s crucial for me to continue to focus on my personal fitness goals. Last year, I completed four marathons and two ultras in seven months. My next adventure will take me to the Grand Canyon. I plan to run from rim to rim with a few of my girlfriends. We will run 21 miles the first day, camp out, and then run another 21 miles back the next day. It’s not a race; we just want to take in the scenery, enjoy our friendship and make the most of the experience. Running is a lifestyle for me—I hope that some of the children who experience KRA will feel the same way when they grow up.