Yakima Herald Article on the Sun City Harriers

Here is the original article on the Sun City Harriers from last year.  We are looking forward to the 2014 season:


Erik Mickelson counts down to a group of young runners who are leaning forward and eager to take off on their next quarter-mile loop around orange cones in a field in the north end of Yakima’s Kissel Park.

And they’re off.

Nearby, Erik’s wife, Aleah, reads off times as different groups finish and recover before the next loop. Coaches and parents offer encouragement.

All around, kids run, catch their breath, talk, laugh and smile.

It’s a Tuesday afternoon at a Sun City Harriers practice — cross-country for kids.

About 50 runners make up the team, with an age range from 4 to 16. The Mickelsons formed the team this fall after finding out there was nothing like it in Yakima.

“Sometimes, if it doesn’t exist and you’re passionate about something,” you go ahead and do it yourself, Erik said. He and his wife are lifelong runners and were successful on their high school teams — Erik at Newport in Bellevue and Aleah (then Aleah Thome) at Eisenhower. Both went on to run at the University of Washington, where they met in 1997. They have four children, Kara, 10, Mary, 8, Kate, 6, and Nils, 1. All but Nils compete on the team, but he most likely will in time.

Lindy Kollman’s daughters Anabelle, 8, and Maisy, 5, run on the team. From a seat on a picnic table near where the runners practice, Kollman watches the group work out.

“I just love to see them running and smiling and getting their exercise,” Kollman said. “Learning to be outside and get their bodies healthy.”

Erik Mickelson said he’s seen big gains from the runners in the three weeks they’ve been practicing, and the team has had some success: The boys’ team placed first in the third- through sixth-grade division at the Sunfair Invitational. The girls’ team placed third. But it’s not all about winning, or even racing.

While the club’s affiliation with USA Track & Field gives runners a chance to compete at sanctioned regional and national competitions, some aren’t interested and turn out just for the fun. Mickelson is fine with both ends of the spectrum, and everything in between.

“I just want to see kids grow up loving to run,” he said.

Practices and races continue through November. No experience is required and runners can join anytime throughout the season. The cost is $25, which includes a shirt. And, of course, they have a Facebook page.

First day of practice announced

2014 First Day of Practice 1.2Aleah and I are excited to officially announce we are ramping up the planning for the 2014 Sun City Harriers Cross-Country Team.  Thanks to everyone who was part of our inaugural 2013 season.  We didn’t originally plan on having 50+ kids turn out at practice each week but it was a huge success.  The kids had a great time.

Our first practice will be Tuesday September 9th at 4pm. Practices and times will be the same as last year, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5pm.

While I’m at it, I also want to give a huge thanks to Jez for putting together our website.  He had it up and running last year, it has taken me this long though to learn WordPress and how to publish.  We will be posting updates weekly from now until the start of the season.  Next week we’ll be letting you know where our new home course and practice location will be.

Last, we are going to be looking to add several adult volunteers to help us at practices.  Ideally we would like one adult for each 8-10 kids. We would also love to have adults volunteer to run with our kids during their workouts.  Everyone needs some encouragement and you could use this as an opportunity to get in two extra workouts a week.  Remember that a family that runs together, stays together!

Get Fit & Have Fun!

handsWe have fully recovered, school is almost out and we are ready for the 2014 cross-country season.  Yes, Yakima is the fourth most obese city in the United States but it wont stay that way if the Sun City Harriers have anything to do about it.  Before last season, our eight-year old daughter could only run a quarter-mile.  By the end of the season, she was up to over two miles without stopping.