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BEST WAY TO GET YOUR KIDS OFF THEIR BUTTS Phoenix 2005 - Racelab Jr.

This is what P.E. was meant to be: stretching, training for races, and -- get this -- having fun. Some of the kids we've seen running around at the two parks where Racelab operates aren't in the best of shape. But they're getting there, and seem to be having such a good time that they forget they're -- yuck! -- exercising.

The program is all about coaching children to enjoy running with fun activities in a safe, motivating, noncompetitive environment. The folks who run this junior race marathon know what they're doing, and all they ask in exchange is about $35 monthly for one session a week, or less than $9 a session. That's a hell of a lot less than most sports that kids are involved in these days. As for the "equipment," a pair of sneakers, a ball cap and a bottle of water about covers it.

No experience necessary; just a smile and a willingness to run around for an hour or so. On many weekends, the kids get to see how they're doing at race competitions all over the Valley. Then they get to eat pizza.

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