FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – This weekend, thousands of people will race through the streets of Fort Wayne for the annual Fort 4 Fitness Fall Festival. This year’s event is in-person and virtual after going fully virtual in 2020.
Kaitlyn Julian has participated in the race for years. She’s a former high school and collegiate athlete who runs to stay busy and active. She completed the 10K race during her first-ever Fort 4 Fitness.
“I thought ‘well I’ll start with the 10K and work my way up from there,’ so the following year we did the Fort 4 Fitness again and did the half marathon,” said Julian. “My parents were cheering me on, my sister was there, and just really exciting to get that off the bucket list then.”
Is she going for the Triple Crown in 2021? Not quite.
This year, Kaitlyn Julian is taking it slow and walking the race with a new partner: her daughter Emma, who will be 3 months old the day of the event.
“I don’t care what kind of time I have or anything like that,” said Julian. “We’re just walking the 4 mile with my mom, my mother-in-law. So, we’re just gonna hang out and just enjoy it that way and get her involved in her first Fort 4 Fitness.”
In year’s past, she would typically be training hard to prepare for the race. But this year, Julian and Emma enjoy easy walks a few times a week along the Pufferbelly Trail and near their home.
Come Saturday, the two will hit the streets of downtown Fort Wayne for their first Fort 4 Fitness as mother and daughter. Four miles means there will be plenty of time to bond and make memories. Julian says she also wants to begin instilling lifelong lessons in her infant daughter.
“I want Emma to learn that it’s important to set goals – all kids, all ages – set goals, learn how to work hard to meet those goals and you feel good about yourself. And I want her to know the importance of an active lifestyle too,” said Julian. “It’s a good overall lifestyle, you feel better about yourself so you’re self-confident, that’s another important aspect of having a healthy lifestyle.”
Julian says she plans to take pictures during the event for Emma’s photo album, and she plans to bring Emma to the race for years to come.
“Even if she doesn’t enjoy running, she knows it’s important to stay active.”
Kaitlyn Julian says the importance of community shouldn’t be overlooked either, and she’s looking forward to introducing her daughter to the Fort 4 Fitness community she’s come to love.
“I’ve done other street races, but the Fort 4 Fitness family environment is incredible. You’ve got people outside on their front porch drinking their coffee cheering you on, they’ve got sidewalk chalk, telling you to keep going and that kind of thing,” she said. “Everyone has a goal at the Fort 4 Fitness, whether they just want to finish a race or make a certain time, and it’s definitely a community environment of pushing each other to meet your goals. So it’s definitely a community event, family-type environment so that’s really special.”
Family, community, and healthy living. Thanks to her mom, little Emma is well on her way to encompassing all three.
The Fort 4 Fitness Fall Festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 17 at Parkview field with the Kids and Senior Marathons at 6:30 p.m. Events on Saturday, Sept. 18 get underway at 7 a.m. with the start of races staggered throughout the morning hours.
For a full list of events, guidelines, schedules, times, and more, you can visit the Fort 4 Fitness website.