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Family competes together in 5K run

When Spencer and Janie Mooney met in college, they were bothrunners.

Now, years later, they have graduated to triathlons with theirseven children becoming athletes as well.

“It’s something we’ve enjoyed all through our marriage,” JanieMooney said. “And it was just natural to teach our kids to run asthey grew up. We started jogging with them at an early age, andpushing them in strollers.”

With a family so big, the Mooneys said it’s not just about stayinghealthy, it’s also about spending family time.

“It’s something we can all do together,” Janie Mooney said.

The Mooneys turned out in force Saturday for the first Girl Scout5K Walk/Run and Fun Run, which drew about 130 kids and adults. Fourof the children were on the scene. Nineteen-year-old Danielparticipated in the 5K.

“I did pretty well,” said Daniel Mooney. “I trained a little thisweek. I run two to three miles a day.”

The family cheered as a group when 11-year-old Sam and 8-year-oldLizzie competed in the Fun Run, which was a mile-long course. Bothof them finished well ahead of most of the children their ages.

Ironically enough, it’s the fact that the family can do thetraining together or separately that helps the Mooneys keep up withone another. Understandably, having seven children through theyears can stretch a parent’s energy, not to mention his or her freetime.

“Everyone has their own schedule,” Spencer Mooney said of thetraining. “We’re not really structured on that. It kind of dependson if they want to bike or run that day.”

And of course, with the family working toward triathlons, there hasto be time for them to bike, run and swim. Spencer and Janie swimat the Human Performance Center, and the kids swim at BrookHill.

But there are also the trips they take together, where they canexercise in a pack.

“We generally go places where we can do those things,” said SpencerMooney of biking and running. “We take our bikes on all ourtrips.”

Next Saturday, 14-year-old John will participate in the RonaldMcDonald Kids’ Triathlon in Jackson. It will be his last year to beeligible age-wise.

At this point, all of the children have competed in triathlonsexcept Lizzie, who is still working on swimming, but her parentssay it’s not going to be long before she’s out there, too.

“Kids have a tendency to sit and not be very active these days,”said Spencer. “But really, they love to ride bikes and swim. Thoseare great sports to get your kids involved in for their ownhealth.”

And the Mooneys say the benefits extend to the emotional and mentalas well.

“Kids love being with their parents,” Janie Mooney said. “It’s thefact that they learn to love the activity coupled with doing itwith family. It’s a great way to build family time.”

And it’s something that can be passed through the generations.

“It’s a lifelong way to maintain your fitness,” said SpencerMooney. “You can’t play baseball and football all your life.”

The ear, nose and throat specialist said not having to rely on ateam makes it an ideal sport to adopt at a young age.

“The other fun thing is that kids can enjoy participating anddelighting in their own accomplishments,” he said. “You can reallyexcel by just competing with yourself and trying to beat your owntime.”

The Mooneys’ other three children are Patrick, 16; Mary Grace, 22;and Matt, 25.