Soos Creek runners: They’re logging the miles, keeping smiles


Soos Creek Elementary sixth-graders from left to right: Mae Thungc

Soos Creek Elementary sixth-graders from left to right: Mae Thungc

The students call it “Killer Hill” and though it may not be all that steep or all that long, the path through the school’s back gate is enough to slow down even a high-energy elementary school kid, especially after already running more than a mile.

“I hate this hill!” a lone voice called, vocalizing the looks on the faces of just about every other student.

They may hate it, and it may slow them down, but even Killer Hill doesn’t stop the members of the Soos Creek Running Club, which has met twice each week (give or take during the snow and holidays) since the beginning of school.

Started by Soos Creek staff member Stacy Wahlberg, the running club began in January 2008 to get the kids ready for the upcoming track season. This year, the kids were asking about it as soon as school started.

“I must have had 10 kids ask me when we were going to start running,” Wahlberg said.

Though she was expecting about 20 students, the club opened with 60 kids, all ready to run.

“They wanted to run. I thought that was awesome,” she said.

Meeting after school in Mondays and Wednesdays, the running club all starts together, then spreads out over one of the courses designed by Wahlberg. This past week, the loop took the kids off of school grounds, through a neighborhood, up Killer Hill and then around a trail behind the school.

The total distance per loop was about a half-mile.

The kids run at their own pace, usually in small groups (though some run solo) and the goal is to get the youngsters running for as long as they can, up to the full 30 minutes during which the club meets.

On Wednesdays, student only run for 20 minutes and then play a high-energy game or scavenger hunt of some kind.

“Anything that keeps them running and having fun,” Wahlberg said.

On most days, Wahlberg runs with them, as well as other teachers, aids and parents. The runners start off each meeting by stretching and then hit the course, with most pushing themselves to run the whole time.

Some students are given stopwatches and yell out for the others how long they have all been running.

At the end, the kids write down on clipboards how long they were able to run. Most of the runners have shown marked improvement from the beginning of the year, with some only able to run about 90 seconds in September able to keep pace the entire time now.

The youngsters who run said they feel better about themselves and enjoy getting in shape.

“Its really fun,” said fourth-grader Samantha Dillon, 9. “It gets you more in shape then you were before.”

Marie Ford, 11, said the running was getting easier each week and helped her stay active for her other sports.

“It helps me train myself for track and basketball,” she said.

Warren Bacote-Wilson, 9, also is training for basketball and said he feels healthier, but those aren’t the only effects.

“I feel really, really proud of myself,” he said. “Like, ‘I did it.’”

“I think it’s great,” agreed Braiden Beckman, 11. “It gives you time not to just sit around and play video games.”

Principal Patty Drobney said the school has been trying to focus on lowering childhood obesity and the running club is another great way to get the kids up and moving

“We’re trying to get kids more active,” she said.

“They look at themselves as athletes, as runners, whereas they wouldn’t before,” Wahlberg said, adding that she thinks the focus helps them in the classroom too.

Drobney agreed.

“I think the more fit they are, the more focused they are in class,” she said.

But along with being fit, Drobney said, the club gives the students something to be proud of by charting their progress and getting into shape.

“There’s so many things about school that are hard for these guys,” she said. “There’s nothing really to win from running club, but they all come out winners.”

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Madeline Goldsmith. COURTESY PHOTO
No suspect yet in July 2023 Kent murder of Madeline Goldsmith

Someone fatally shot 18-year-old Kentwood High graduate as she sat in vehicle near Lake Meridian

Police bust mother, daughter in Kent for retail crime spree

Two reportedly joined one other woman in 3-state crime ring taking women’s clothing from Lululemon

Reith Road in Kent to get two new roundabouts this year

City Council approves $4.28 million bid; project to start in late May or early June

Puget Sound Fire's Teddy Bear Clinic set for May 18 in Kent

Annual event provides free checkups for teddy bears and children

Overturned military vehicle causes I-5 backup near Kent, Federal Way

Wednesday, April 10 in northbound lanes near South 272nd Street

Kent Police Blotter: March 26 to April 7

Incidents include robberies, burglaries, shooting

State Patrol seek witnesses to I-5 hit-and-run crash in Kent

Collision at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, April 8 along northbound I-5 near State Route 516

Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent turns profit for 2nd consecutive year

City-owned facility brings in about $600,000 in 2023

Kent Police recovered nearly 800 catalytic converters in a 2021 bust. File photo
New state legislation fights catalytic converter theft

Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill on March 26 adding new regulations… Continue reading

Firefighting Diversity & Recruitment Workshop set for May 11 in Kent

Event designed to help potential candidates get jobs

Kentwood High grad's legacy of love lives on through organ donation

Madeline Goldsmith one of 344 organ donors honored by Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia

Flowers, framed photos, plush toys and a QR code to the GoFundMe pages of the families grace the memorial site after the March 19 crash. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/.
Judge, lawyers debate low bail for Kent driver in fatal Renton crash

Judge explains reduction from $1 million to $100,000, which was posted by family of Chase Jones