NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Teacher Sally Bojorquez is a marathoner who ran track in school.

She saw that her students at P.S. 159, a small K-through-5 school in the South Bronx, did not have the same opportunities she once did.

“She noticed right away that there was no phys ed in the New York City Department of Education, especially in elementary school,” said Principal Luis Liz. “It’s something that’s unfortunately put to the side.”

“We don’t have a gym. We don’t have an auditorium,” teacher Xavier Ortiz said. “Our cafeteria serves as a gym and an auditorium, which gets awkward at times.”

Bojorquez knew that had to change. She had to improvise, so she and Ortiz began having the children run laps on the sidewalk outside the school.

“This, I feel, just provides the kids with that time to be outside to have more physical fitness,” Bojorquez told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

“They are incredible. … We practice from 7 to 8 Tuesdays and Thursday mornings. I feel like a lot of times, after practice, too, they’re more energized in classes, so it kind of carries on for the rest of the day.”

The kids agree.

“I like it because it encourages me, and it gives me more energy when I go to class,” said fifth-grader Brandon Romero.

The New York Road Runners‘ Young Runners program partners with the school, and many of its students will run through the TCS New York City Marathon finish line Friday with some of the elite athletes.

Bojorquez will be joining them. She’s also running the marathon Sunday.

“My coaches in high school instilled that passion in me, and I’m loving the fact that I get to pass it down to kids now,” she said.

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