Land Sharks running wild on Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Land Sharks pose for a group photo prior to their final track meet on October 29. Each season lasts six weeks, with children competing in three races each. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Land Sharks pose for a group photo prior to their final track meet on October 29. Each season lasts six weeks, with children competing in three races each. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Trenton Lee, 7, runs toward the finish line after running four laps during the Land Sharks final track meet on Oct. 29. Each child that finishes a race gets a ribbon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Trenton Lee, 7, runs toward the finish line after running four laps during the Land Sharks final track meet on Oct. 29. Each child that finishes a race gets a ribbon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Children on the Land Sharks track team run four laps during their final meet on October 29. Proper running and stretching technique is taught to the children at every event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Children on the Land Sharks track team run four laps during their final meet on October 29. Proper running and stretching technique is taught to the children at every event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In today's Air Force it is mandatory for a recruit to be able to run 1 and a half miles in order to be called an Airman. While many Airmen today do not like to run, and would compare it to pulling teeth, there is a group of dependents here at Vandenberg that are not only running, but running for fun.

The Land Sharks is a club of elementary school students, ranging from pre-k to sixth grade, that consider running as a favorite pastime.

"We wanted to instill our love of running in younger kids," said Amy Amsden, a mother and coach of the Land Sharks. "Vandenberg's Land Sharks program is actually an affiliate of the Colorado Springs Land Sharks that has over 1200 runners."

The program teaches children how to run and stretch properly, she said.

It allows children to experience the rewards of pushing themselves, while it teaches them about friendly competition during the running seasons.

"There are three races per six-week season," Mrs. Amsden said. "The first two races, everyone who finishes gets a ribbon, and then the last race, the top finishers get medals."

After the race, runners can go on-line and see their times recorded on the Land Sharks website, she said.

Part of the reason the Vandenberg chapter is so successful, with over 25 runners, is because of the support that the parents have provided, said Mrs. Amsden.

Allison Larsen, a proud Land Sharks mother, said she just loves the philosophy of the program that every finisher is a winner.

"With child obesity rates at an all-time high in America, this program is a great way to keep my children active," she said.

The Land Sharks will begin their next six-week season in the spring when they will transition from a cross-country style of running to a sprinting course.

For more information on the club or to enroll a child call Mr. and Mrs. Amsden at 734-2408.