Running around the world is going through a second ‘boom phase,’ much akin to the marathon running boom in the 1980s. Whereas it was a male dominated sport then, this time the younger generation have joined women in leading the way.

While participation in fun runs is nothing new for children, it is the concept of the Kids Marathon that has caught on with children and race organisers alike. Yes, we all know that children shouldn’t run marathons but when they are broken down into manageable segments, it becomes not just a challenge for the children involved but the beginning of a lifetime of good habits.

The basis of the Kids Marathon is that children complete the first 40km of their “marathon” in their own time in the weeks leading up to marathon day. Running one to two kilometres at a time on several days a week, over a period of eight to ten weeks, is achievable for all children. Once they have completed this pre-requisite distance, they then celebrate the joy of finishing their own “marathon” on race day, along with the more mature runners.

The Kids Marathon also adds a new dimension to events – now all family members can participate. Maybe one parent in the marathon and another in a shorter distance, while the children have the time of their life in the Kids Marathon.

In the US, events are getting up to 10,000 children participating in their Kids Marathon programmes. With enthusiasm like this it’s easy to see where the Olympians of the future may spring from.

Fran is a long-time organiser and promoter of Kids Marathons in Australia.

Cover Photo:

Faced with 24 hours work in the first Run24 at Aldermaston, England, our photographer used long exposures and flash to capture runners as they passed in the night.

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