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Liberty Fit director one of six nominees for Foot Traffic West honor

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHASE ALLGOOD - Laurie Jenkins, who teaches physical education at Liberty High in Hillsboro, talks about the Liberty Fit running program for which she won a Hall of Fame award from Foot Traffic West during a ceremony Saturday in Cedar Mill.It was all about women's running Saturday morning, June 17, at Foot Traffic West in Beaverton's Cedar Mill area, when Liberty High physical education teacher Laurie Jenkins and five others were honored for their contributions to the sport at the local level.

Jenkins “has been very influential in the running community” in Hillsboro and beyond, the running store's owner, Sean Rivers, said before presenting her with a 2016 Hall of Fame award — the second in the westside location's history.

A 1979 graduate of Hillsboro High and former cross country coach at Glencoe High, Jenkins, 55, has completed 12 marathons and will run her fourth Boston Marathon in April 2017.

She took over the Liberty Fit program — which invites students not involved in spring sports to train to complete a half marathon — in 2013, four years after it was created in 2007 by former assistant dean Carlos Sequeira.

“When Carlos started Liberty Fit in 2007, he asked me to be a mentor and train with students,” Jenkins said. About a dozen students participated the first year, and Sequeira moved to Wilsonville the following year.

“I continued meeting with the kids in 2008, with two other teachers — Jessica Richter and Ramona Toth — and I took over the program as advisor in 2009,” Jenkins said. “Since then, our program has continued to grow, especially after encouraging more staff, family and community involvement.”

Liberty Fit “is free to students — we invite all those not participating in a spring sport to join, giving them a positive, supportive group to call their own while they achieve fun and fitness. We especially seek out students who are inactive and/or uninvolved in school,” Jenkins said.

A total of 120 students signed up in February. After 16 weeks of training, 60 students ran or walked the 13.1-mile Helvetia course June 11.

Thirty-nine staff members “attended at least a day of training with us, with many attending practices regularly and 21 of them participating at Helvetia,” Jenkins said. “Eighty-seven family members were on our attendance sheet, mostly meeting with us at our Saturday workouts. Forty-two of then participated at Helvetia.”

In addition, “46 different community members met with us at different times, and 21 participated at Helvetia.”

It was enough to impress Rivers and his crew, who selected Jenkins as their top Hall of Fame pick this year.

“We're here to celebrate women's running and the first birthday of this store,” said Rivers, who has three daughters of his own. “In 1990, about 25 percent of race participants were women. Now it's 65 percent. More and more women are running, and it's awesome to see it.”

According to Running USA, 10.7 million females finished a marathon in the U.S. in 2014. Fifty-seven percent of all participants lacing up at the starting line to run the 26.2-mile distance were women.

“When this store opened, we wanted to recognize how many of our customers are female,” said Morgan Saltenberger, Foot Traffic West manager, who noted that about 70 percent of the store's merchandise is geared toward women.

Instead of a statue of the late Steve Prefontaine, the westside location commissioned a wood carving of Olympic marathoner Kara Goucher.

“Running has gone from a male-dominated sport to a female-dominated sport,” Rivers said. “When you step back and look at the strides women have made in running, it's just phenomenal.”

In selecting the 2016 Hall of Fame inductee, Rivers said he looked for a woman who has had a significant impact on the local running/walking community. Jenkins fit that bill perfectly with her efforts to reach marginalized students.

“If you have kids in class who are ornery or are failing, there's a reason,” Jenkins told a crowd of about 50 in the store's parking lot. “You invite them to get fit, and you do it with them.”

Jenkins and her fellow Hall of Fame nominees “have done a tremendous job getting people active,” added Rivers, who has three daughters and four older sisters. “I understand what strong, powerful women are like and the positive influence they can have on peoples' lives.”PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHASE ALLGOOD - Foot Traffic West owner Sean Rivers (left) congratulates Laurie Jenkins on her Hall of Fame award.

  • And the nominees are ...

    Here are the other five female nominees for Foot Traffic West's 2016 Hall of Fame award:

    • Trisha Swanson — Creates virtual runs for cancer research; helps nonprofits create races; started a running program for women in the drug treatment program at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville.

    • Renee Seker — Co-owner of Go Beyond Racing, a trail running community that increases accessibility to ultramarathoning.

    • Cyndie Pelto — Coaches Girls on the Run, a fitness program for eight- to 13-year-old girls; race director for Cause + Event, which allows participants to raise money for the nonprofit of their choice.

    • Lisa Machiavelli — Coach with Foot Traffic University for nine years.

    • Paula Harkin — Co-owner of Portland Running Company; founder of the Run With Paula running events, including the Helvetia Half Marathon, which gave student participants free access to that race.

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