A new running club for students at Coleytown Elementary School in Westport got off to a fast start this fall as a way to promote physical fitness.

The PTA Runner's Club was the brainchild of Celeste Amlicke, the parent of a Coleytown student, and physical education teacher Joyce Evans.

The club was organized, according to the women, not only as a way to help students stay fit but to help the youngsters set goals, build relationships and improve their focus.

Participants began each session by stretching to prepare their bodies for the exercise of the morning. Then they tackle different running courses, games, and activities, as well as tracking their progress through a daily mileage chart. Students set individual goals, and together, the group sets club goals.

By using pedometers, the students learned to track their own progress. The Coleytown runners amassed a total of 356 miles since the club's first meeting on Sept. 28. The season ended Nov. 17.

The club met two mornings a week from 8 to 8:30 a.m., and was open to all students in third, fourth and fifth grades, as well as kindergartners, first- and second-graders with a parent chaperone.

At the season's final event, students participated in a mile-long "Steeple Chase," which posed a variety of obstacles such as "Alligator Alley" and hurdling over "flooded rivers." Parent volunteers helped supervise the 54 runners as they completed the course.

The Coleytown Elementary PTA Runner's Club will be on hiatus during the winter and will be back in action in the spring.