Do you have a kid that’s in constant motion with energy to spare? Or maybe you have a child on the other end of the spectrum who spends most of his time on the couch with a video game? Either way, Healthy Kids Running Series offers a great way to get kids outside and moving!
Healthy Kids Running Series is a five week program where kids run races of various distances according to their age groups. The Series provides kids a positive, educational, and fun experience in the world of running.
The two and three-year-olds are adorable as they run the 50 yard dash. The four and five-year-olds run their hearts out in a 75 yard dash.
You’ll see a competitive nature start to come out when the Kinder and 1st graders run the quarter mile and the 2nd and 3rd graders run the half mile. Fourth through 8th graders run a full mile (though they are separated into 4th/5th and 6th-8th for scoring purposes).
The kids have an impressive determination to conquer their distance. Each week, the kids earn points according to where they placed in the race. At the end of the series, every child receives a medal for completing all five races and the top boy and girl in each age group go home with a trophy.
HKRS is in its third season here in Frisco, but it began as a small program in Pennsylvania several years ago. The Pennsylvania group had a small number of runners during their first season, but the next season, their numbers tripled. They saw that people were driving long distances from the surrounding areas in order to participate. That’s when founder Jeff Long knew they were onto something. He established a non-profit program around HKRS and began to launch it around the country. Long says,
Healthy Kids Running Series was started to introduce kids to running in a positive and fun way. And really to get them out from behind their gaming consoles to develop a healthy and active lifestyle.”
It sounds like his mission is a success. One spunky runner from Frisco’s spring season, Aliah (age 7) tells me,
I learned to love running. After the first race when I was in 10th place, that motivated me to keep trying and get better. And I did!”
Her mom said Aliah was even going out for practice runs in between race weekends. My own kids participated in the Frisco program for the first time last season and we’re looking forward to the fall season starting soon.
I recently sat down with Brynn Sandlin, Community Coordinator for the Frisco program, to learn what motivated her to bring the program to Frisco. Brynn’s nephews had participated in the program in Arizona, and it was Brynn’s sister who ultimately encouraged her to start the program here.
Once I looked into it, I could see it was a program my own kids would love. With two young boys, I’m always looking for ways to burn their energy. I know other moms are too, so I thought it would be a good fit here,” said Brynn.
For her second season last spring, Brynn had 114 registered runners, which was double the number of runners from her inaugural season. She’s hoping to grow that number, even more, this season.
Brynn tells me her favorite part of being involved with HKRS is,
Being at the finish line and seeing the kids’ expressions as they cross. I love to see them realize, at such a young age, that this was something hard, but they can do it. I think that setting a goal and seeing it through – having that feeling of pride and accomplishment is something they can take forward in life!”
She also says she’s very impressed by the older kids running the full mile. It’s a tough distance and she was pleasantly surprised by how many stuck with it. Especially those who were at the back of the pack but continued to show up each week with a smile.
As a spectator, I have to agree. There are the kids in each division that fly by as if they have wings on their feet. These kids are fun to watch, but it’s equally inspiring to see the kids for whom running is not a natural gift. Those kids come around the last turn of the mile course and you can tell they’re putting everything they’ve got into that run. The other kids and parents are cheering them on just as enthusiastically as they cheered for those who were in the lead. The look on the kids’ faces as they cross the finish line is priceless. When you get to tell one of them that she shaved ten seconds off her time from last week, you can see the pride in her smile.
The program is held in the spring and the fall at Shawnee Trail Sports Complex in Frisco, with this year’s five week fall season launching October 1st. Registration is open! You can register online for the entire season for only $35 per child. If you’re not sure that you can make it to every race, you can also show up on race day and register for a single race ($10 per child). Register online today and you can pick up your child’s race packet at the Frisco New Balance store (a national sponsor of HKRS) on September 28 from 4:30-6:00pm. Brynn will be there handing out participant t-shirts along with other goodies from some of their sponsors including Strikz, SweetFrog, Texas Beef Council, Urban Air and Nuventra Pharma Sciences.
Did I mention we’re very excited for the fall season at my house? Just the other day, I watched my youngest build his new Lego set, his feet constantly stepping back and forth while his hands manipulated the pieces. I commented to my husband that we need a treadmill so our little guy can burn his excess energy. My son turned to me and said,
“Mom, I just need Healthy Kids Running to start up again!” You and me both, buddy…you and me both!