When organizers showed up at the Marriott Hotel Thursday morning to announce their plans for the World Youth Classic, they didn't come alone. Colleen Bangerter, wife of the governor, was there. So were BYU quarterback Ty Detmer, Olympians Ed Eyestone and Denise Parker, marathoner Paul Pilkington, and prep running stars Lynette Petersen and Brandon Rhoads.
They all came together Thursday to lend their name to, of all things, a road race, but one with a twist. The first McDonald's World Youth Classic, a quartet of youth road races, will be held Aug. 25 at the Salt Lake International Center. The money raised from the pre-paid donations gathered by participating runners (through pledges) will be given to eight charities that assist children locally and worldwide.More than 2,000 school-age runners are expected to participate, including national- and world-class juniors from around the world.
"This will be the first major charity road race for youth only in the world," said Joel Madsen, chairman of the World Youth Classic. "The theme of the race is kids running for kids."
Aside from being a charity, the race also promises to be a serious sporting event. There will be four races - a 1k race for ages 7-14; a 1K wheelchair race; a 5K race for girls 15 to 19; and another 5K race for boys 15 to 19 that will serve as the first U.S. National Junior Championships.
A number of the top junior-aged runners will compete in the latter two races, including Rhoads, the Utah state mile and two-mile champion from Timpview High; Luis Quintana, a 4:08 prep miler from California (third best in the nation this year); Jason Bunston, the top Canadian junior runner who already has run a 4:01 mile and a 14:10 5K; Tammy Salomon, the top Canadian junior girl who was sixth in the World Junior Cross Country meet last fall; Petersen, the two-time Utah state cross country champ; state champions from Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Alaska and Texas; and top runners from Mexico and Ecuador.
Officials say that 100 percent of the donations gathered by runners will be distributed to Ronald McDonald House, the Andean Children's Foundation, the Center for Hunmanitarian Outreach and Inter-Cultural Exchjange, One World Through Youth, Utah Chapter for Cystic Fibrosis, Camp Kostopulos, the Utah Chapter for Child Abuse Prevention, and Kids on the Move.
For youths wishing to particpate in the road races, entry forms are available at McDonald's restaurants. For information call 566-6653.