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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Children break through the tape at the start of the Read Today 5K in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. The Read Today program was created by the Deseret Management Corporation to help improve literacy among Utahs children. Utah currently ranks 24th in the nation for the number of fourth-graders that are reading at or above grade level. The Read Today program strives to improve this statistic by not only encouraging parental and family involvement, but also challenging everyone in the community to become more involved in efforts to get kids reading.

SALT LAKE CITY — Spectators cheered as hoards of runners moved down South Temple on Pioneer Day morning Wednesday in the annual Deseret News Read Today 5K fun walk/run.

Many of the 5K kids, who ran amid half-marathon and 10K runners, had bright yellow balloons tied around their wrists so they could easily be distinguished among the participants.

As the runners neared the finish line, they could see a big blown-up sign that pronounced, "The End!" That visual created much relief mixed with determination to finish strong.

"I had a lot of fun and I'm really glad I finished," said Lindsay Hair, 13, of South Jordan. She participated in the race before and was happy she came back.

Ashley Bierman, 10, from Emigration Canyon, loved it.

"Even though this is my first year," Bierman said, "I want to train for more 5Ks next year."

Cousins Mackenzy White and Conner Koester, who are 5 and 4, ran the race together. White's dad was in the Boston Marathon, so that was her motivation to participate. Koester is visiting from Phoenix and wanted to participate with the family.

"This race felt real good," he said.

Mackenzy added: "I love the medal I got for finishing it."

After the run, all received a free breakfast of french toast and buttermilk syrup. It was a fine way to finish off a race.

There was one particularly special participant during Wednesday's Deseret News Classic races. She ran the 10K. Her name is Carol Skeen and she is 84 years old. Her nickname is "Mother Goose," but her grandchildren just call her "Goosey." Her family running group was even called, "Goosey's Gaggle."

Skeen explained how she got started: "I won a running ribbon at school when I was 7 or 8."

Ever since then, she has just kept on running. Skeen gets up at 3:45 each morning and goes walking for 4 1/2 miles. In one simple sentence, she captured the spirit of running: "I just plain love it."

Kate De Groote is 12 years old, loves 5Ks and Triathlons and writes for Read Today.