It’s easy to see why 2017 Kiwanis-Sesame Place Classic winner Meghan Lutz is excited about returning to defend her title this year.
Teaching and coaching children are not only her career but her passion.
And the 20th annual SPC on Sunday, May 20 is all about kids enjoying some healthy exercise and getting some fun in the park as well.
The 28-year-old Langhorne native works with special education children in the Centennial School District during school hours, then uses her expertise as a runner to serve as assistant girls coach on the William Tennent High School track team, specializing in distance runners.
Lutz turned in an extraordinary time of 3:04.55 in the Boston Marathon last April and no doubt that played a big part in her training to win last year’s Sesame Place Classic 5K in a quick time of 18:58.
This year, some of her training has switched to the triathlon, but she wouldn’t miss returning to the Sesame Classic and all those young smiling faces.
“Kids of all ages love Sesame Place,’’ she says. “They have a really great time. It’s nice to come out and see the park, spend some time with your family and some friends.
“I know some of our kids like to go and visit. It’s a time to relax and have fun and compete.’’
The flat, fast, USATF-certified course around Oxford Valley Mall appeals to serious runners like Lutz, even on a day when fun ranks up there with speed.
“It (the race) has good competition,’’ says Lutz, a former distance runner for Nazareth Academy and La Salle. “It’s a fast course, it’s usually really nice weather, so it’s a good opportunity to run a good time and test out your legs to see what you have early in the season.’’
Lutz currently is getting set to compete in the Broad Street Run 10-Miler and perhaps take on a triathlon later in the spring.
She was the head track coach at Tennent for a couple years, then took a year off to concentrate on completing her graduate degree.
Now she’s back working with the distance runners, a field she knows a little something about.
“When the kids do well, it’s an achievement for everybody,’’ she says. “We have a couple seniors who have a great shot of getting to the district meet and maybe beyond that.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing what we have at the end of the season, maybe if we can have some positive performances.’’
It’s not a problem for her to get runners’ attention because she can keep up with just about anybody on the team.
“I don’t know if it’s as easy as it used to be,’’ she says with a laugh. “But I guess it does serve as an example to the girls that if you do work hard and do put in the time, it is possible to run fast times.
“It is kind of nice to let them know I’ve been there and that I know the workouts are tough. But if you do get through, you will have a positive payoff.’’
Lutz completed the 2008 Lady Rockers/Council Rock North Invitational 3,000 meters event in 9:34, a record which stands to this day.
“It’s about setting goals,’’ she says. “My college coach always told me it’s a ‘lifestyle.’ It’s having a healthy, positive outlook on life. Running is great but you will go on to have a family, a career and these are great life lessons. . .these are great through all aspects of growing up.’’
At Sesame, a number of runners – especially those in the kids’ 50-meter sprint – are being introduced to running for the first time.
“For the little guys, it’s all about making it fun,’’ Lutz says. “And making sure they stay safe and healthy.
“But I think running is a great thing to get into at any age because it is enjoyable. It does provide so many opportunities. You don’t need a coach or a team or a field. You can put on a pair of running shoes and just go.’’
Saturday, March 10
Nativity of Our Lord 5K, 10 a.m., Warminster. Contact www.runsignup.com
Saturday, March 17
3rd annual Shamrock Shuffle 5K, 9 a.m., Newtown. Contact www.newtownshamrockshuffle.com
Sunday, May 20
20th annual Kiwanis-Sesame Place Classic 5K, one-mile fun run/walk, kids sprint, 7 a.m., Middletown Township. Contact www.sesameplaceclassic5k.com