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Spending Record Times Together

April 25, 1998|DEBRA CANO

Long-distance running is a family affair for David and Connie Learn and their two children.

Nine-year-old Ayn Learn started running with her father when she was 4 years old. Her brother, Nathan, now 11, began running at 6.

The Learns not only run about 6 miles every day together, but enter competitions as a group.

"It's a family activity," said David Learn, 47, a seventh-grade teacher and track coach at Kraemer Middle School.

The Placentia family will be among participants in today's Earth Week Run, featuring 5K and 8K races and a 1K "Fun Run" for children.

Ayn won the 8K race in last year's Earth Week Run. Competing against adults, she finished with a time of 36:37. To no one's surprise, her goal this year is to again finish first. Nathan, who finished eighth last year in the 8K, hopes to improve his time this year.

Over the last five years, the Learn children have participated in competitions across the country, garnering titles and breaking records.

Ayn was 5 when she broke the national record for the 10-mile run in her age group, her parents said. At age 7, Nathan set records for 10-mile and 13.1-mile races in his age group, they said.

David Learn, an avid runner since childhood, said it helps build self-esteem and discipline. For his daughter, who has cystic fibrosis, running has also improved her health.

"The doctor tells us her lungs are in great shape," Connie Learn, 40, said.

The young runners have logged nearly 10,000 miles each, have set goals to run their first marathon next year and hope to compete in the Olympic marathon.

"It's part of our life," Ayn said. "Sometimes when you're running, and it's a beautiful day, you just like it."

The Earth Week Run, which is sponsored by the city and Placentia Linda Community Hospital, is open to runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes. Proceeds benefit cancer research, recycling education, the city's community centers and the nonprofit Combined Health Appeal of California.

Earth Week Run registration and information: (714) 993-8232 or (714) 993-8204. Cost: $20 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under.

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