10/24/2012 11:09 am ET Updated Dec 24, 2012

For the Love of Running

I'm in the middle of a meeting at work when my kids' school calls. Never a good thing.

"Mrs. Bellows, there's been an accident on the playground," says her teacher. "You better get here as fast as you can."

Turns out my 6-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, went running headfirst into the metal pole that holds up the basketball hoop. A fast runner, she hit it with such velocity that she bounced back five feet. I could hear her hysterically crying in the background, thank God. Silence would have been much worse.

When I get there, my daughter has an ostrich-size egg sprouting from her eyebrow. She didn't vomit or have blurry vision, but still the witnesses urge me to take her to the emergency room to rule out a concussion.

Luckily my little girl is fine and is up and running pony-style the very next morning. I love watching the joy on her face when she runs like the wind. None of the boys can catch her.

I started running 30 years ago, first to manage my weight and now to subdue my stress. While I can't say I always enjoy sticking to my four-miles-every-other-day schedule, I always feel better afterward.

This weekend, now that Mackenzie's bruise is gone and we've learned to be a little more aware while speeding full throttle through the atmosphere, Mackenzie, my 8-year-old son, Chase, and I will be running for a purpose. In fact, my kids and I are going to make history this weekend by setting a Guinness World Record. Maybe even two.

Last year Mackenzie and Chase joined First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let's Move! initiative on the White House lawn to help National Geographic Kids break the record for jumping jacks. This year they'll be doing a 100-meter run at the Marine Corps Marathon Healthy Kids Fun Run to help National Geographic Kids break the Guinness World Record for the most people to run 100 meters in 24 hours.

Between noon EST Oct. 26 and noon EST Oct. 27, anyone, anywhere can join the effort. Some people will be participating in school events or at locations like Macerich shopping centers. (Find one near you at But your family can participate on its own: In a park, on the sidewalk, or just about anywhere you've got 100 meters in front of you. (Just make sure you follow the rules:

After the run, we'll all turn in our running shoes to help National Geographic Kids break the Guinness World Record for the longest chain of shoes. After that record is broken, all those stinky shoes will be recycled into athletic surfaces such as basketball courts and running tracks.

What I love is that these records show kids that exercise and recycling -- both of which are things that I want to do, try to do -- can be easy and fun. I mean, 100 meters? That's just two lengths of an Olympic-size swimming pool. Or one length of a football field. And at the end of it, all the runners can be proud of the Guinness World Records they helped set. Luckily for Mackenzie, there won't be any basketball hoop poles to navigate.

So join me in getting your kids out there and active. Set up your own runs this weekend and then round up your old sneakers and send them in. Shoes can be dropped off or sent to the National Geographic headquarters (rules and addresses at

For more by Melina Bellows, click here.

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