Off and running!

We just heard back this morning from the Yakima School District and will be having our Monday track practice at Franklin Middle School from 6-7pm each week. So our first practice is official and will be April 27th!

As a reminder, our Wednesday practices will be at West Valley High School at the same time (6-7pm).

Next, it was our tentative plan to have our home track meet on May 30th. It only took three parents to remind me that this is the same date as the Junior Gap2Gap. I talked with Joel at the West Valley School District today and he said we can rent the track on Saturday June 6th instead. So the FIRST ANNUAL SUN CITY TRACK AND FIELD MEET will be on the 6th. There is probably going to be a cost for the use of the track but we are planning on opening up this meet to the whole community and can make up the money with the price from non-Sun City entrants and concessions. Parents, grandparents, and more we will be asking you to volunteer at this meet for a few hours either timing, registering, or running concessions.

Our home meet is the same day as the meet on Lake Washington so we will not be going to this meet. We will have an extra meet the weekend of June 13th in Spokane for anyone who wants to compete in one more meet. The Mickelson family will not be going to this meet but wanted to have that as an option for anyone who wanted one more meet.

In Summary:

  1. Practices are ready to roll the week of April 27th (Franklin Middle School and West Valley High School)
  2. First home meet will be at West Valley High School June 6th.
  3. If you haven’t signed up yet, just download the 2015 Sun City Track and Field Club–Info Packet as Waiver-and-release-form-2015and have it in the mail to us no later than Thursday April 23rd. If it is later than that, just bring it to practice and Aleah can sign you up then.

As always, call or text me at 941-5191 if you have any questions. Also cheer on Aleah during the Boston Marathon this Monday!

Coach Erik

Welcome future Sun City Track and Field Team

Welcome to Sun City Track & Field!

First, thank you for taking the time to inquire about our team.  Our team has a two-year tradition in cross-country but 2015 will be our first year in track and field. Our goal is to offer high caliber, exciting, and dynamic training under the guidance of experienced and dedicated volunteer coaches. Our coaching philosophy is to first make track fun, be athlete-focused and goal-oriented.  We welcome youth ages 5-18 with varying levels of fitness. Our goal is to build the athlete’s confidence, work collaboratively with the athlete and parent to get the best performances at the right time while preserving the athlete’s physical and emotional well-being. We respect and understand the unique physical needs of young, growing athletes and will not compromise an athlete’s long term health for short term gains.  We insist that our athletes have Fun, strive for Academic excellence, model Sportsmanship on and off the field, and run with Tenacity at practices and during meets.  My goal is for our athletes to first, have fun! I also hope for them to build lifelong friendships, develop a healthy respect for the sport, model true sportsmanship, and experience success with a team that continues to solidify our place on the national stage of youth track and field.  I look forward to our team continuing to grow while providing a safe, structured, and fun environment for athletes to meet and exceed their performance goals.  The Sun City Track and Field team looks forward to having you join us in 2015!

Track & Field is a multifaceted sport that allows the athlete to develop skills and compete in various outdoor running, jumping, or throwing events. Against the list of events that we coach (below), athletes will typically specialize and compete in up to three – subject to the limitations and standards of their age group.

Track Events

Sprints: 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters

Distance: 800 meters, 1500 meters, 3000 meters

Hurdles: (contingent on getting a coach in 2015)

Relays” 4×100 meter relay, 4×400 meter relay, and 4×800 meter relay

Field Events

Shot Put (perhaps in 2016) Javelin (perhaps in 2016)

Long Jump

High Jump (contingent on getting a coach in 2015 as well as making sure our facility has the equipment)

Coach Erik Mickelson, Head Track and Field Coach

If you have any questions, give me a call or text at 941-5191



What to expect for cross-country practice

For those newcomers who have never been to a Sun City Harriers cross-country practice I have some good news: there will not be a hilly ten-mile run the first day of practice.  In fact, for you newcomers you will run probably one to two miles. I think my eight-year-old last year only made it a half-mile on her first day of practice last year.

Our practice always starts promptly at 4pm with a quarter-mile warmup. If you happen to come one-minute late feel free to cut a corner and catch up with the rest of the team as we are warming up on the field closest to the Yakima Valley Museum.

After our warm-up we then move into stretching and drills. Before doing any hard and fast movements it is always best to have your body ready for them.  The drill portion of our workouts usually lasts about ten minutes.  These are fun ways of team bonding.  Running drills are imperative to cross-country runners.  For runners that don’t have great form, it is equivalent to driving a car with bad gas that is also out of alignment. It will get from Yakima to Seattle but you will get 12 miles/gallon instead of 20. For the harrier (cross-country lingo for a runner), this means you can add 2-10 seconds a mile by just being more efficient.

After our team drills we then go into our workout groups.  It is our goal this season to move up from three different groups to six or eight.  For example, our young kids (usually six and under) will do something in the realm of 200 meter repeats with lots of rest. We say our age range is 6 to 18 years old.  If you have a younger child (5 and under) feel free to bring them out to run with us but plan on doing the workout with them (walking and jogging) to make sure they don’t get lost in the commotion.

For our seven to ten year olds, our workout of repeats will range in the 2-3 mile range. Our eleven and older groups will be in the 3-4 mile range.  We spend about 30-35 minutes running.

Some of the different kinds of workouts we will do throughout the season are:

1. Repeats (usually intervals of 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters or 1 mile repeats) with 1-5 minute rest in-between.  These workouts are great at increasing the anaerobic threshold of a runner in a race.

2. Fartlek. No, I didn’t just swear. Fartlek is an European term for “speed play” in running.  You could also call it surging.  What we do with a fartlek workout is run fast for 60 seconds and then slow for 30 seconds. We will use different kinds of intervals and do this for time periods of 5-10 minutes.

3. Hill Repeats. If you are short, props to you. For the most part it is significantly harder for taller runners than short runners to run hills. I am 6’2″ and have always struggled running hills but have gone from being horrible to decent over my 30+ years of running. By doing hill repeats it helps the harrier develop good form, even cadence in a race, anaerobic, and aerobic ability.  With all there is to gain from hill repeats, several team incorporate this activity into practices at least once a week.  Consider hill repeats the broccoli of running!

4. Racing. Running a race is great for runners because it lets them know how much they have in the motor and tank.  We usually do not race in practices and leave this for the Saturdays but is a very important part of training. Taking one’s body to the end of its ability.

The last ten minutes of each practice we play a game that most of the younger kids really enjoy: steal the bacon, sharks and minnows, etc.

Last but not least, we finish with popsicles.  It helps to get the harriers to the finish line and helps replenish a few of the calories we will burn during the hour!

Registration Page and Welcome Letter

Dear Sun City Harriers,

Welcome to our second season of cross country! We are excited to launch this upcoming season on Tuesday, September 9th at 4 pm. Practices will be on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4 pm to 5 pm. Most races (which are optional) are held on Saturdays, beginning with our team Time Trial on Saturday, September 20th. Please refer to our Fall Race Schedule for more info on upcoming races.

This year we are moving our practice location and home cross-country course to Franklin Park, located between Tieton Drive and Chestnut Ave. on the south and north; and South 17th and 23rd Ave. on the east and west. Kissel was a great park, but its flat course limited our ability to train on hills. Franklin Park offers a more diverse course and will help us become stronger and fitter runners.

This fall we also will host our very first cross-country meet to go along with the other two local meets we are scheduled to run: the Sunfair Invitational and Apple Ridge Invitational.  There will also be a few other races for team members and families willing to travel to Western Washington and other areas in the Northwest.

One last note: We strongly urge all parents (regardless of experience) to consider volunteering as a Parent Coach. You may choose to run with your child, time intervals, manage workouts, lead game time, or otherwise assist in team practices and meets. All parent volunteers with receive a free Team T-Shirt/Sweatshirt. Please let me know whether you are interested in helping.

In the following pages you will find our 2014 Registration Form, Team Fees, Release Forms, and Team Schedule. The program cost for athletes registering before 9/8/2014 is $25 (which includes a team shirt); on or after 9/9/14 the cost is $30 per child (including shirt). This year we also have optional team warmup gear available for purchase.

Feel free to call us at (509) 833-5951 (Erik) or (509) 833-5952 (Aleah) if you have any questions. See you September 9th!

Coaches Erik and Aleah Mickelson

2014 Registration Form Sun City Harriers

Waiver and release form 2014

2014 Meet Schedule for Sun City Harriers


New practice location announced for Sun City Harriers

We are excited to announce we are moving the Sun City Harriers home cross-country course from Kissel Park to Franklin Park! The first day of practice is Tuesday, September 9th, and like last year, we will practice Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4 to 5 pm.

Kissel was a great park, but its flat course limited our ability to train on hills. One of the great things about hills is they aid in perfecting form for the developing runner. Running hills in practice will also help us compete better on hilly race courses like the Sunfair Invite (One of the largest XC races in the NW, held at Franklin Park).

Some of the things that Franklin Park (located between Tieton Drive and Chestnut Ave. on the south and north; South 17th and 23rd Ave. on the east and west) also offers is a more diverse course.  For our older runners, it will allow us to run 1000 meter and mile repeats.  For our young kids, we have a great 200 meter and 400 meter loop.

Starting this fall, the Sun City Harriers will also host our very first cross-country meet to go along with the other two local meets we are scheduled to run: the Sunfair Invitational and Apple Ridge Invitational.  There will also be a few other races for team members and families willing to travel to Western Washington and other areas in the Northwest.

Looking forward to the fall!

Coach Erik and AleahAleahFranklinSCHBlogSummerRaceSeries2014

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!

About The Sun City Harriers

Running coach Erik Meckelson

You might say the beginning of the Sun City Harriers started back in 1984.  This is when I started running for the Cascade Strider cross-country team in Bellevue.  My wife Aleah ran for the old West Valley Ramblers starting in the late 80’s for their track team.

Aleah and I met on the cross-country team at the University of Washington in the fall of 1997. You could easily say cross-country is in our blood.

We love the sport of running and are hoping to pass on the joy and passion to you and your family.