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Eight-year-old Taylor Thiesen had a big smile on her face as she crossed the finish line.

"I could run the whole thing," she said. "It's just a mile. I'm used to going 2 miles."

Thiesen was one of the many youths who took part in the kids' 1-mile race that kicked off the Labor Day Walk/Run on Monday morning.

The annual event, sponsored for the first time by Anytime Fitness in Schuyler, included more than 100 people.

Ellen Faltys, one of the organizers, was having a blast.

"We're excited. Our goal was 100," she said. "And those kids are hilarious. They are so cute."

After all the kids crossed the finish line, the older participants walked to the starting point for their 5-kilometer race.

Kim Parsons and Kim Mlnarik said they've been walking several times a week to prepare for Monday.

"We're just trying to be healthier," said Parsons.

P.R. Olson and his golden retriever Clipper were ready to see how far they could go at a jog.

"We're always training," Olson said.

Sarah Sindelar, an Anytime Fitness user, wanted to support the business' event. Her two children were strapped into a jogging stroller and along for the ride.

"He's got a doughnut, so he'll be fine," she said of her young son.

When she heard the group that previously organized the walk/run wasn't doing it this year, Anytime Fitness owner Kim Ennen saw it as an opportunity to organize a fun fitness event.

"We wanted to have it be fun and to get all ages," Ennen said. "Fitness is so important in everybody's life. So young and old, we just want to keep stirring the pot to encourage people to exercise and have fun."

Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase fitness equipment for the Schuyler Community Schools' after-school program.

Luis Romero crossed in 16 minutes, 21 seconds to finish Monday's race in first.

"I'm out of shape right now, but I'm working on it," he said. "It's still fun, though."

Romero has participated in quite a few races. He views the events as more than physical activity.

"It's the mental test," he said. "You're testing yourself."

As more runners trickled in, Ennen and the rest of the Anytime Fitness team cheered them on as they crossed the finish line.

"It's not about how fast you go, it's that you're going," Ennen said.


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