BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Students at Our Lady of Fatima are focused on fitness. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders started the morning Friday in Hiller Park, testing their aerobic endurance with a one mile run.
And although it's called a "fun run," there's also a serious side to this exercise event.
"You're going to go around the curve. Keep going around the curve," said P.E. teacher Michele Mandal, as she gave last minute instructions.
Students at the starting line were about to test their endurance.
"When I say go, y'all click the timer okay?" said the teacher.
"We are doing the one mile fitness test for the 4th, 5th and 6th graders to test their aerobic capacity. It's the very last in our series of fitness testing," said Mandal.
"Go Ryan, Go!!" yelled the boys, as Ryan Smith ran past.
"I think it's going to be pretty fun," said fourth grader Ethan Shows. "I like running."
Charlie Fink was ready to tackle the course.
"Well, I ran a mile once and I ran in D.C. at the Pentagon, ran around the Pentagon. And I went and trained with my dad to go around here once before," he said.
The girls are first with the fun run, as the boys shout their encouragement. Ryan Smith found it pretty tough.
"It was hard! Because it was long," she said.
Braleigh Moak got hugs and high fives from her parents at the finish line.
"I think I did good," she said, but admitted it was pretty tough.
"It is a great idea. We've been practicing in the afternoons to try and get ready for it. And I think they all did a great job," said her mom, Michele Moak.
Many of these youngsters made it look easy. Others are thankful it's a run-walk event.
With Mississippi the fattest state in the nation, promoting fitness is a priority for these students, parents and teachers.
"It is vital. It is vital to Mississippi to instill a meaningful thought of fitness into their minds at a young age," said Michele Mandal.
They'll run again next Spring, with a goal of improving their times.