Run Hungry Project Prepares Young Runners For Success

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John Burroughs High School Track's Coach G, Heidi Eligio, Coach Peebles, Emily Virtue and Coach Le'Von at the CIF Prelims race. (Photo Courtesy Alima Virtue)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sept. 2019 – This program has now ended and those involved thank everyone for their hard work and dedication

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Coach Le’Von Davis and his Run Hungry Project take a holistic approach to training young runners for track and cross-country events, which won him the support and praise of Burbank area track team members and parents alike.

“Along with track and cross-country training, he provides the kids with health, nutritional and educational advice,” commented Lucy Green, whose daughter Maisy runs with Run Hungry and for the Luther Burbank Middle School Track team.

The Mile Eaters running group with Run Hungry Project coach Le'Von Davis. (Photo Courtesy of Lucy Green)
The Mile Eaters running group with Run Hungry Project coach Le’Von Davis. (Photo Courtesy of Lucy Green)

“One of the main goals is to get young athletes ready for their running career at college and teaching them how to manage their studies with the rigorous training schedule,” Green said.

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Currently an assistant track and cross-country coach at John Burroughs High School, Davis began the Run Hungry Project in the past year. The group trains out of two separate locations, in Burbank and Santa Monica, with plans to expand to more locations in the future.

Two freshman runners on the Burroughs track and cross-country teams, Alexander Hirsch and Emily Virtue, started training with Le’Von several years ago when they were students at Luther Middle and joined a North Hollywood track club.

“I first started working with a few Burbank students with the North Hollywood Hawks Track Club – a great program run by Molletta Hawkins,” explained Davis. “We just had a great vibe together.”

John Burroughs Track team member Alexander Hirsch at the Junior Olympics in summer 2014. (Photo Courtesy of Charles Hirsch)
John Burroughs Track team member Alexander Hirsch at the Junior Olympics in summer 2014. (Photo Courtesy of Charles Hirsch)

“As interested gained with the local athletes, I branched off and wanted to do something that has more of an educational stance to it,” continued Davis. “I think being well-rounded and having life experience is very important for young athletes.”

Hirsch and Virtue have posted numerous wins over the years in their race categories. Hirsch even competed in the Junior Olympics this past summer.

“Practicing with Le’Von has been a wonderful opportunity,” commented Hirsch. “Over the years, I have learned that anything could be a risk to my training. When I was much younger, I was very careless about going onto a trampoline, trying a friend’s skateboard and other acts that could hurt me.”

“As I developed my ability, I started to see how dangerous everyday life could be,” added Hirsch. “I had to be more responsible to weigh the consequences of my actions.”

Hirsch started running with the Los Angeles Hawks Track Club while attending Roosevelt Elementary. He began working with Davis in 2013. Hirsch’s specialty is distance events, including the 3000 meters, 1500 meters and 5K cross country.

Emily Virtue, representing Luther Burbank Middle School, and Coach Le'Von Davis of the Run Hungry Project at the All City Meet April 13, 2013. Virtue placed first in the mile race. (Photo Courtesy Alima Virtue)
Emily Virtue, representing Luther Burbank Middle School, and Coach Le’Von Davis of the Run Hungry Project at the All City Meet April 13, 2013. Virtue placed first in the mile race. (Photo Courtesy Alima Virtue)

“Le’Von’s attention to detail in the training leading up to the Junior Olympics built up Alexander’s level of performance to compete on a national stage,” commented Charles Hirsch, Alexander’s father.

Virtue has trained with Davis for the past three years. The freshman competes in cross-country in the fall and middle distance events in the spring. Her favorite event is the 1600 meters.

“LeVon taught me a lot about how there is more to running than just the training,” said Virtue. “There is also eating correctly, having the right form and getting yourself prepared for the race with ice and rest.”

“I’m really happy that Coach Le’Von was my coach because he put a lot of time into making specific workouts so that we could get faster,” the fourteen-year-old added.

Twelve-year-old Green trains in Burbank three to four times per week with Davis, and has attended a few Santa Monica beach runs.

Luther Burbank Middle School's Maisy Green runs a 3K. (Photo Courtesy of Lucy Green)
Luther Burbank Middle School’s Maisy Green runs a 3K. (Photo Courtesy of Lucy Green)

“I have always loved running but training with Coach Le’Von has made me understand the different ways my body works which is making me faster,” Green commented. “Competing at events is exciting.”

“We do lots of fun stuff too, like watching college races, touring UCLA and having beach days,” she went on to say. “All of us on the team are good friends.”

The Run Hungry Project stands out from other track and field clubs with its variety of programs including college preparation, understanding sports nutrition, participation in community events and helping out with Run Hungry digital media projects.

“I have seen a lot of growth in many different areas with our runners,” continued Davis. “Not just athletically. Everyone of our runners become faster, while enjoying a healthy social environment.”

“The things our athletes struggle with are typical to any student at their age,” he added. “Self identity, peer pressure, time management, proper social behavior and future planning. The Run Hungry Project is a great atmosphere for growth in all these things.”

The Run Hungry Project just completed cross country season and will start training in January for an indoor track meet that will be held in Fresno, California. Their outdoor track season begins in March.

“We had a great group of 13-14 year old girls who really showed a lot of character and skill set,” said Davis about the recent cross-country season. “It is all growing and very exciting to see these kids dig into something that will improve their future.”

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