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FRENCHTOWN – Students stampeded Friday at Frenchtown schools to promote healthy lifestyles and raise money to complete a track resurfacing project.

In the morning, preschoolers through sixth-graders ran just more than a mile in the Colt Stampede, while seventh- through 12th-graders had a one-mile or 5K option during the afternoon Bronc Stampede.

The routes incorporated the track, as well as other trails in the vicinity, said Jami Romney FitzGerald, a school board member who helped organize the event.

While the stampede encourages students to help raise $100,000 for upgrades to the track facility, the event also is about student health, FitzGerald said.

“First and foremost it’s a wellness event,” she said.

Friday’s event was the second student stampede. By last August, enough money had been raised through the Track Matters initiative by students and community members to resurface the track for the first time in more than 30 years, FitzGerald said.

Before that, though, the track had become unusable for hosting track meets, she said.

Students were getting shin splints, the uneven track made it difficult to use starting blocks in some areas, and two lanes were unusable because of cracks and other disrepair, she said.

This year, the school is able to host meets, which brings people and provides a boost to area businesses, especially restaurants and gas stations, she added.

A mural by art students on the outer wall of the stadium, complete with three steel broncs on which donors’ names will be listed also will be part of the project.

Already, the track is used for P.E. classes and sports, but Friday’s event was a fun change, several freshman said.

“It’s just really fun being able to walk it with our friends,” Natalie Bova said.

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The high number of students and community members who participate make the event fun for Carter Thompson, who wore an orange tutu and rainbow wig.

“Even adults come and do it,” the sophomore said.

Trackster Devon Kadrmas said he had fun at the stampede and enjoys using the facility for practice and meets.

“I like having our home crowd being able to see us run,” said Kadrmas, a senior who runs long-distance events.

The soft, even surface also is easier on his body when training, he said, and it’s good to see the community support the school.

“It’s nice to see the community mesh together for something like this,” he said.

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Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at alice.miller@missoulian.com.

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