Elementary School Kids Send Artwork, Advice to Olympic Trials Contenders

Students suggest broccoli, sleep, and winning.

Pittsburgh kids art Trials 1

A group of Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers will be receiving an extra dose of motivation this week—and maybe a few chuckles, as well. 

More than 500 drawings, letters, and photos created by students at 24 elementary schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will be delivered to the mailboxes of about 20 athletes ahead of race day on February 13. The notes and pictures urge athletes to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and please try to finish in the top three. 

The project was coordinated as part of Kids of STEEL, a program created by Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon (P3R), which teaches children about healthy exercise and nutrition habits while training them for kids runs held during the Pittsburgh Marathon race weekend in April.

“We are all passionate about getting running out to the youth of our area,” said Michele Nichols, the youth program manager for P3R. “[The artwork is] a great way to get the kids involved and excited about running and the Olympics.


Patrice Matamoros, the CEO of P3R and race director of the Pittsburgh Marathon, mentioned one student’s note to Jeffrey Eggleston, a 2:10-marathoner from Boulder, Colorado. “She said she knew exactly what [Eggleston] was going through because she’s training for the Kids Marathon,” Matamoros said. (The letter is below.) 


Each school was paired with a different runner, giving the students the opportunity to build personal relationships with the elites and get them engaged with the race itself. 

“Tying [the students] to the stars of our sport makes sense,” said Matamoros, who added that the project was also a way to help elites foster connections with the community. “We want them to look up to these athletes and show them what they have to do to become an Olympian.” 


Matamoros said they hope to repeat the project for the Olympic track and field trials this summer.

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