Sue Hinman, 42, of Northfield, has been a runner since she was in fifth grade and was a competitive sprinter in high school and college. Her kids started even younger.
"As soon as they could hold their heads up, I pushed them in the jog stroller," she said of daughter Ali, 15, and son Grant, 13. From there it was just a matter of inviting them to run with her and eventually participating in organized runs. Instead of sprints, it's all about distance now.
"I did the Bambino Biathalon in kindergarten," said Grant Hinman. That race is held in Port Republic each June for ages 5 to 12, and includes a 1/4-mile run, followed by a 2-mile bike ride, and another 1/4-mile run. It's part of the Jersey Genesis Triathalon to benefit the Port Republic Athletic Fund.
He got more serious about running in third grade.
"That's the year I decided to try a 5K at the Turkey Trot (the Rotary Club's Thanksgiving run in North-field's Birch Grove Park)," he said. In fifth grade he joined the cross-country team at Northfield's Community School, where he excels.
The family, including dad Michael, runs six days per week and participates in about one organized run a month, said Sue Hinman.
Next on their schedule is the Ocean City Half Marathon and 5K Oct. 3. Both kids will run the 5K, while both parents will run the 13.1-mile half marathon, she said. The family's training has really paid off for Grant, who ran at the 2008 nationals for the Junior Olympics as a cross-country runner, after finishing in the Top 25 at Stockton's USATF-NJ Junior Olympic XC local Championships and in the Top 20 in the regionals, held that year in Syracuse, N.Y.
Between training and competing, the family spends a lot of time together, shares a love of sport and keeps in shape. But you don't have to be a lifelong runner to experience those benefits.
Another Northfield mom, Evelyn Corso, began running later in life, and brought her then 7- and 10-year-olds with her.
"I started about three years ago to get back in shape. I was divorced and had gained a few pounds," said the 48-year-old mother of two, who had been a hiker, bike rider and tennis player, but hadn't done any running since high school. "I was told you can lose a lot of weight running," she said, while still eating whatever she liked.
Now her children run regularly with her to train and in organized races.
"My children were young at the time. So we started on the bike path running, then walking between light poles. Gradually we increased the distance. We'd go to the Mainland (Regional) High School track to walk and run. Then we started running 1-mile races together," Corso said. It took about a month of running three days a week for all of them to be able to run a mile, she said.
"It got to the point where they said, 'Mom, you're too slow for us.' That's when we started going to the track so they could run at their pace, and I could run at mine," Corso said.
From there, they kept adding distance.
"My son and I just ran the 5K Tim Kerr run in Avalon, and I am training to run my first marathon - the Atlantic City Marathon in October," she said.
Son Robert Teresi, 14, is a freshman at St. Augustine Preparatory School in Buena Vista Township, and was the only freshman to make the varsity cross-country team this year, she said. Daughter Jessica Teresi, 11, is in sixth grade in Northfield Community School. She runs about a mile most days with her mom and runs spring track at school.
The kids will volunteer at the Atlantic City Marathon, she said, helping with registration and giving out water and participation medals for the 5K.
"It's important to volunteer when they don't run, to give back," she said. "When we're deciding what race we are going to do, the charity it benefits comes into play, too."
She said the family uses bikes to help equalize different abilities of younger children.
"(Robert) decided in the beginning of summer to do cross-country, and so we ran on the Ocean City Boardwalk," she said. Robert would run the longer distance of 7 miles with his mom, and Jessica would bike along with them.
"It was a family event," Corso said.
The Hinmans also like to make their training and races family events. They are participating in the Asbury Park Relay Marathon in October, in which their family and one other four-person family makes up a team.
"Each person does a 5K, and when you're done, it makes a marathon," she said.
Batons are handed off inside the Convention Hall there, so "when you transition, everyone is cheering for you," Grant said.
Grant attributes much of his success to early encouragement from his mom.
"I would have given up without her running beside me," Grant said. "She was always saying, 'Come on, you can keep up.'"
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Tips from the Hinmans
•Vary the route. Running the same route gets boring and makes it more
•difficult to get motivated. The Hinmans run on the bike path and around the neighborhood, but also on trails through Birch Grove Park and elsewhere.
•Start with reasonable goals, and challenge yourself to outdo your
•Sign up for organized runs to get the support you need from fans and race organizers.
•There is power in a partner. It gives you more motivation and makes running more fun.
•Run in all temperatures and conditions.
Tips from Evelyn Corso:
•Make it fun, especially in the beginning when children are young. It can be a lifetime activity if they don't get turned off to it early.
•Buy good running shoes and socks. Ask other runners for advice on brands and models. Find out what kind of
•runner you are - over or under pronator, referring to the side of your foot you put most pressure on. Don't run in cotton socks. Get socks designed for running.
•Buy good running clothes that wick moisture from the body.
•Use bikes and running on tracks to help younger runners not feel left behind.
•Do research to decide what distance you are comfortable allowing younger children to run.
Web sites to check out for local race information: