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Principal Runs To Inspire Students
0902 David Kindred
Fair Oaks Principal David Kindred is shown here competing in the Modesto Classic 5K run recently and will run a 5K and a half marathon at Disneyland on Labor Day weekend. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Mickey Mouse memorabilia in his office is a dead giveaway. Fair Oaks Elementary School Principal David Kindred is a Disneyland fan. In fact, it’s a family affair.

Last year, he and his family were visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth” on Labor Day weekend when Kindred noticed that early one morning a number of runners passed by on the streets and through the park before it opened. He found out that it was the Disneyland half marathon (13.1 miles) and he decided right then and there that he was going to enter the half marathon in 2009 to compete in what’s known as the “Happiest Race on Earth.”

Kindred also plans to walk/run a 5K (3.1 miles) race on Saturday, Sept. 5 at Disneyland with his daughter Hope, a fourth grader. Then he will run the half marathon the next day.

“I’m looking forward to doing it with Hope,” he said of their father/daughter 5K race effort. “We’ve been training, doing our running and walking… She’s pretty excited about it.”

Kindred has let the teachers and students at his school know that he’s running the Disneyland race and is having the students make predictions on his time. The closest guess will receive a special prize from Disneyland.

“I’ve been running for about two years now, anywhere from three to five days a week, between two and five miles each time,” he said. “Two weeks ago I ran 10 miles and I did that in a little over two hours.”

Kindred is fairly new to running, having never competed in high school or college. He admitted that he’s sustained some injuries, but has recovered.

“What I’ve learned since I’ve become a runner is I need to listen to what my body is telling me… I’m not 20 (years old),” he said.

Last year, when he ran a half marathon in San Jose, his first race, he experienced a mysterious knee injury and walked and limped the final five miles of the race coming in at three hours and 23 seconds (3:00:23). He was disappointed with that result, as he had hoped to come in at three hours or less. He and a handful of other Oakdale school administrators and teachers entered that race, which happened to tie in with the timing of a new campaign by the Stanislaus County Office of Education that promoted physical fitness. He said that the students were excited last year about the San Jose race and interest is stirring on campus again.

Fair Oaks sixth grade teacher Michelle Danner recently talked with her students about what a half marathon is and how to read a race time. She gave each of her students a small piece of paper to write their time prediction, within 10 minutes either way. Some classes have even made charts. Danner has some racing knowledge herself, as she was part of the contingent that competed in the San Jose half marathon last year.

Despite the injury setbacks, including a more recent case of shin splints, Kindred has found that he’s caught the “running bug” and that it’s helped him to have a better diet, lose weight, and gain muscle.

“I’m finding muscles in my legs that didn’t exist before,” he said. “It’s been a life-changing thing for me... I want to be someone the kids can look up to and respect as far as (how) I take care of myself.”

Kindred has been competing in a few 5K races over the course of the year, most recently in the Modesto Classic where he placed 11th in his age division. He’s been coming to school wearing his running shoes to remind the students of his plans. This week, he’ll run the mile with the school’s fifth and sixth graders as part of their P.E. classes.

His personal goal for the Disneyland half marathon is to beat his San Jose goal by five minutes and come in at 2:55:00.

“I want to come in under the three-hour mark,” Kindred said.

As long as he stays injury-free, it’s a goal that should be easy to meet, if not surpass, especially since he has more running experience than he did for the San Jose race.

The Disneyland half marathon winds through Disneyland and California Adventure, through Anaheim to the Anaheim River, around the Honda Center, into Angels Stadium where runners get to run a baseline, and finishes at the Disneyland Hotel. A field of 18,000 participants is expected for the weekend’s events, with 13,500 in the half marathon, according to The Disney Blog.

After meeting this challenge, Kindred said his next goal is to climb — not run — Half Dome next summer.