Kara Lubin: The Runner
By Eric Butterman
They say a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
The same can be said of the journey taken by the 100 Mile Club, an organization that sprung out of an idea Kara Lubin ’90, M.A. ’96 dreamed up in 1992 while working as an elementary school teacher in Norco.
“I was in just my second year as a special education teacher when I decided I would do it,” said Lubin, founder and CEO of 100 Mile Club. “I needed to give my kids something to work for and to seek excellence. They were having trouble in school and needed a way to accomplish a big goal and experience true personal success.”
This spark prompted her to challenge them with what seemed like a daunting task: run 100 miles before the end of the school year.
“They looked at me like I was crazy when I told them what we were going to do,” said Lubin, 50, who received her bachelor’s degree in human development from UC Riverside in 1990, as well as a master’s in special education in 1996. “We started that first day, and we marked off our accomplishments on a wall chart. They wanted to do it again the next day. They immediately attached themselves to it and loved how it felt when they ran. I got much more out of them academically after that.”
Lubin’s 100 Mile Club was off and running — and it hasn’t stopped yet, with approximately 2,700 active clubs, spanning all 50 states and even extending to countries such as Japan and Mexico. It has received funding from Child- Obesity180, Kaiser Permanente, and the New Balance Foundation, which has become its lead national supporter. In addition, it received the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Gold Medal, which also came with program funding.
There are two program options in 100 Mile Club. One is free and offers an introductory booklet of more than 100 pages, forms, letters, an FAQ, and downloadable certificates of achievement for participants. The other version, which costs $10 a student, includes incentives for each 25-mile achievement — a shirt at 25 miles, a silver pencil at 50 miles, a wrist band at 75, and a gold medal for reaching the ultimate goal.
One success story that stands out to Lubin is Brittany Osborne, who was just a newborn when she became one of the youngest patients ever to receive a pacemaker, Lubin said. Osborne participated in 100 Mile Club and used it as a springboard to eventually receive a track scholarship to the University of Mary in North Dakota.
“I can’t tell you how a story like hers makes me feel,” Lubin said. “I am so proud of her.”
However, Lubin noted that students participating in 100 Mile Club are more likely to see a measurable academic improvement than receive a track scholarship, noting several studies have now found a strong link between the two.
Lubin highlighted fellow Highlander James Huff ’91 as a particularly strong influence who helped her learn what it takes to build an organization such as 100 Mile Club.
“He was one of the first to do (military-style fitness) boot camps and created that support, that push to do our best,” Lubin said. “But he also knew when we reached our limit during workouts. It’s the same thought process I have when it comes to working with students.”
100 Mile Club’s Norco headquarters is just a 20-minute drive from campus, said Lubin, recalling her own runs to the Big “C” during her time as a student.
She marvels that early club participants are now old enough to have their own kids in the program.
“The 100 Mile Club has been about the power of community, of supporting one another, and helping one another set and achieve big goals,” she said.