PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Third and fourth graders, clad in red T-shirts, burst through the doorway at Minadeo Elementary School in Squirrel Hill.

“Keep going! Come on!”

Physical education teacher Joann Willey shouts encouragement, as they circle the playground. Minadeo is one of 14 area schools participating in Giant Eagle’s “Kids of Steel” program.

“The ones who want to go fast can go fast,” says Willey. “The kids who sort of want to stay at the same pace do that. The kids who are a little slower, it’s even good for them.”

In addition to exercise, the runners have another goal in mind. They plan to be ready for the Toyota of Pittsburgh Kids Marathon, a week before the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 12.

“Kids of Steel” encourages youngsters to run 25.2 miles over the course of 18 weeks, leading up to a final Marathon mile on May 5.

“You’re exercising, and when you’re running it’s fun, because you get to run with a whole bunch of kids that you know,” says third grader Isha Subashyvas.

They are also encouraged to try 60 foods, from a list of 100 healthy choices. As fourth grader Kamaal Thompson puts it, “I get in good shape now, and I drink milk all the time now. I don’t know why, but it’s good.”

The Toyota of Pittsburgh Kid’s Marathon is still taking registrations. If people are interested they can log on to: www.pittsburghmarathon.com.

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