Jack Bentler never thought he would be a runner, let alone a competitive long distance runner for a club team.
The sixth grader at Don Juan Avila Middle School only began serious training for running last September. Now, Jack will be running alongside thousands of others in the OC Marathon, along with his teammates from “We Rock We Run Orange County’s Kids,” an after-school intervention programs for middle and high school students.
So how will Jack be feeling when he lines up early Sunday morning to run the 26.2-mile course throughout southcentral Orange County after only eight months of training? Determined, he says.
“It’s a really big milestone in my life,” said Jack. “It means I can do whatever I set my mind to do…and I can do so many more things in my life that I thought.”
Jenna Fields, an eighth grader at Don Juan Avila, said she never thought she would be running a marathon, but here she is just days away.
“Marathons are so hard. I never thought of running one,” Fields said. “It’s crazy.”
The team will be ready to go by 4 a.m. and probably stay until 1 p.m. said Andrea Kooiman, coordinator of the event and coach of the Aliso Viejo team.
The theme for the We Rock team this year is “Area 21.” It’s a takeoff on Area 51, probably the most famous top secret military institution in the world. They will be hanging out at Watering Hole 21 along the marathon route, which happens to be Moon Park in Costa Mesa with the huge moonscape. Another alien link.
To emphasize the alien point, Kooiman wore big, blue, bug-eyed sunglasses as she greeted the 80 members from Don Juan Avila and Aliso Viejo middle schools, and Newhart Middle School in Mission Viejo, who came to Newhart Wednesday afternoon to meet and listen to Jonathon Prince, the prolific long distance runner.
Princes has run more than 12,000 miles and has crossed North America three times for good causes involving communities and youth groups like We Rock We Run.
Prince told the boys and girls that running has provided him with an emotional and spiritual purpose that he had been searching for.
Prince said, “It pulled me in a way that nothing had ever pulled me before. Pulled to a purpose greater than myself, just to be of service to humanity and mankind, and do my part. If I could tell this one thing to everyone here, make sure that before your time is up to do something grand. If you do that the world is your oyster.”
For now, Jack and his friends are just hoping for a decent time and a fun experience.