School Marathon - 2009

I grew up attending parochial schools.

For anyone (about my age) who attended any of the private / parochial schools in Minnesota's Twin Cities - you will have memories of participating in the "The Marathon".  

Back when we participated in The Marathon, it was an all day event where all the local schools got together on the same day, each setting up their own picnic area within the boundaries of Minneahaha Park (home of Minnehaha Falls).  Most would set up picnic shelters, tents, and canopies with colorful signs and banners identifying which school's gathering area this was.

There would be coolers filled with pop and water,  burgers and hotdogs on grills (manned by the dads), tables of pot-luck style side dishes (manned by the moms) that were brought by each of the participating families as a dish to share.

Once you arrived and checked in with your school, you were free to head out (walking, biking, or running) along a pre-determined route (closed off to local traffic) along West River Parkway up to the University Avenue Bridge, and then head back down the East River Parkway back to Minnehaha Park, where you would check back in with your school.  Once you completed the route, you would gather with other families and celebrate with fellow students, families, and Alumni.  It became quite the "social event" for us "parochial schoolers"....

(I'll see if my parents have any photos from the old Marathon days....)

The annual Minnesota Marathon for Non-Public Education is still around, but has evolved into a slightly different incarnation of its former self. (Excerpt taken from their website)

The Minnesota Marathon for Nonpublic Education is a fun and effective way to raise funds, and public awareness for your school.

Since 1974, Marathon events have given students, school families, faculty members and others an opportunity to show their school pride while generating important financial support for school programs. With fun events and service projects, the Marathon has served communities while supporting nonpublic education.

In 1975, the State Council of the Knights of Columbus joined the effort. Since then, the Knights have provided financial support for Marathon events across the state.

Typically, students solicit donations for walk-a-thons, bike marathons, community clean-up events and service projects matching students with community needs.

Our kids' WONDERFUL little school, St. John the Baptist (being a private school) participates annually in “The Marathon”.   St. John's has put together a Marathon program they call "Hands to Serve, Hearts to God"

Through “Hands to Serve, Hearts to God” the school participates in service project(s) geared to enrich our local community.  Specifically…

  • The preschoolers clean and dust the sanctuary of our church. 
  • The Kindergartners (#5 of 5's class) and first graders hold a musical production for the residents of Shule Haus (our local nursing home).   (Photo below)
  • The rest of the school (#4 of 5's class) participate in a fall lawn clean up for the
  • elderly, or for those who are unable to clean their yard before winter by raking and bagging leaves....


The participants are broken up into small groups that consist of one school representative, several parental volunteers, and between 6-10 students and spread around the community to complete our service. Each group is given a list of homes to serve (this year each group had four).


Once a group has completed their list, a call is made to the school (to see if any other group is in need of help) – and either provide help to another group, or head back for hot dogs and caramel apples (at least that was this year’s fare)

I have participated in years past, but for the past few years, I have been working a “day-watch” (7am-3pm) schedule – and therefore unable to attend.

This year, the scheduled day of The Marathon (Friday) was rained out, and delayed until the next school day (Monday). Since the Mother of Five took Friday off, and I was on my days off on Monday – this year’s parental volunteer from our house fell back on me.

The day was PERFECT! The weather cooperated. The sun was out, and it was cool but not cold outside. I was assigned to the same group my daughter (#4 of 5) was assigned to. Our group was given a list of four houses that are closest to the school. Because we received the houses closest to the school, we walked to our target address (as opposed to a couple of the groups who were bussed) and once there, we started in the task at hand.


Note to self…

Raking up a yard full of leaves would be SO MUCH EASIER if it did not involve groups of elementary school aged kids jumping into MONSTER piles of leaves (re-distributing them around the yard) you are trying to clean them up.

Oh, don’t get me wrong here… I understand the whole premise of teaching the kids the importance and value of volunteering – and to be completely honest, I think the senior citizens that we were helping (and were watching us from their windows) enjoyed watching the kids involved in their “shenanigans” – I’m just sayin’ it would be SO MUCH EASIER!!

Once we finished our four houses, we checked in with the school, and were asked to help another group with their last house – bringing our total number of yards cleaned to five before we headed back to partake in the hot dogs and caramel apples.


At the end of the day, between all the groups, our little school / church had a clean sanctuary, the residence of the Shule Haus had a wonderful afternoon of being sung to, and a total of 34 homeowners of our little community (who would normally be unable to clean their own yards) got their yards raked and readied for winter – not to mention the opportunity to demonstrate the value of volunteering and community service to our children, and raise a little bit of money for our school too!


  1. Super cool!

    Your recollection of The Marathon reminded me of Play Day, our school district's track and field day for 2-6th graders.

    When I was a grade-school-er it was a full blown, winner take all track meet, competing against all of the other same grade kids from the other schools in the district. (Just FYI, Mound Elementary won all four years I was involved. Thanks to my athletic prowess, I am sure.)

    Anyways, now it has been morphed into something else; non-competitive, a day of silly games and health education. So no gloating winners from Mound Elementary anymore.

    But no crying kids from the loser schools, either.

  2. What a great day and great event! And you didn't fool me. It wasn't only the 'kids' jumping in the leaf piles, was it?

  3. Ahhhh, I definitely remember those Nativity marathons Dave. They were fun!! Thanks for posting and the memory.

  4. This is fabulous and looked like it was a lot of fun too. Next year, beat the kids to the punch and when they have a nice cushy pile of leave all set, jump in before they get the chance. It will make the day that much better.

  5. That's pretty neat! We never had anything like that in my school district, I did go to public school but still. It just seems like a good thing to do. Seems like you guys had fun and taught the kiddos a valuable lesson.

  6. What a great idea. A REAL education involves getting out and putting theory into practice, which is what your school seems to do. That looked like a lot of fun, except if you were actually trying to rake leaves into piles to clean them up. Ha ha.

  7. I just came across this post while trying to find the name of this marathon via Google, to accompany a 30 year old throwback Thursday photo from the event. Brings back a lot of memories! It was always fun, but also a bit odd, since I went to Minnehaha Academy, which meant we were spending a Saturday morning right by school! : )


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