Marathon Kids and Nike announced that as of this summer, kids in 50 states across the U.S. are now running with Marathon Kids. The goal-driven running program challenges kids to run the equivalent of up to four marathons (104.8 miles) over the course of a running club season or school year.
Marathon Kids began over 22 years ago in Austin, TX, and expanded to California and Maryland in its first two decades. In 2015, Marathon Kids and Nike joined forces, and the partnership has grown the program from three states to all 50 states, with more than 350,000 kids running in the program with their local community-based organizations, schools or at home with their families.
With the goal of inspiring half a million kids in the U.S. to start running with the program by 2020, Marathon Kids expanded its reach with Marathon Kids at Home in 2016. The four-marathon challenge is the same as the traditional program, with Marathon Kids at Home enabling families to run together, using the Marathon Kids motivational mobile app to track the progress of their running season and celebrate accomplishing milestones along the way.
“Our goal is to get kids running for life—for their health and happiness now, and for a lifetime,” said Ray Blue, Chief Development Officer. “The partnership with Nike has really taken our program to the next level, and we’re so humbled and excited by the potential to encourage even more kids to get active this summer with the Marathon Kids at Home program.”
To celebrate the journey of getting kids moving in 50 states, Marathon Kids and Nike have also released a special short film, “Run With Me”, with Marathon Kids participants from across the country motivating other kids to get active—one mile at a time. The two-minute film shows how running can be fun, inclusive and empowering for all kids.
“Today’s kids are part of the least active generation ever, and it’s up to all of us to get them moving,” said Caitlin Morris, General Manager of Nike Global Community Impact. “Nike believes in the power of sport to move the world, starting with kids, and there’s no better place to start than with running, the starting line for play and movement, to help them fall in love with sport and physical activity for a lifetime. Together with the Marathon Kids team, we’re excited to inspire kids across the country to participate in the program—running at school, in their neighborhoods and with their families—to help inspire positive habits that will benefit them in all areas of their life.”
The Marathon Kids program design is informed by the research of leading physical activity experts at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Through an evidence-based approach, Marathon Kids has determined that an average child can safely and effectively meet the goal of running 104.8 miles, incrementally, over the course of a 3- 6- or 9-month running club season (or school year). A key part of the program is to provide positive reinforcement, which Marathon Kids does by rewarding kids with exclusive Nike program rewards when they reach program milestones of 26.2, 52.4, 78.6 and 104.8.
By the end of the 2016-2017 running season, 80 percent of surveyed running clubs showed remarkable progress—with 89 percent of runners finishing one marathon, 72 percent finishing two marathons, 57 percent finishing three marathons and 41 percent completing all four marathons.
The Marathon Kids at Home program makes it easy for families to get moving together— sign ups are available on the Marathon Kids website. The cost of the Marathon Kids program is $15 per person plus $5 for shipping and provides all the tools, incentives and motivation to start a family running club, including a family guide, mileage logs, rewards, access to additional online resources, trainings and events. Family running clubs can also use the Marathon Kids app (integrated with NIKE+) to track their miles.
Here are a few inspiring examples of kids running with Marathon Kids across the country:
- One of Marathon Kids’ most active families, the Gonzalez family, began participating in the program in the fall of 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif. Omar Gonzalez learned about Marathon Kids through running with Nike and the program quickly became part of his family’s routine. Together, they’ve run in the last two Marathon Kids Miler celebratory events in LA and continue on their fitness journey with the Marathon Kids at Home program. Recently, Good Housekeeping shared their running story, which inspired mom and daughter team Jessica and Amelia, from Casper, Wyo., to become Marathon Kids’ newest family run club. After reading the article, Jessica knew the program would be a great fit for her and Amelia (8) who are Wyoming’s first Marathon Kids runners as the 50th state to join the program. “I want my daughter to grow up knowing that being active is not a chore, but something she enjoys,” shares Jessica. “She’s already an active child but Marathon Kids has given us the opportunity to carve out time for the two of us to spend together working on our running goals.”
- At Oakhaven Elementary in Memphis, Tenn., 95 percent of kids are economically disadvantaged, but thanks to special funding they were able to bring in Marathon Kids as their first-ever extracurricular physical activity program. During the school year their coach, Jeremiah Bland, uses the program to teach hard work both on the track and in the classroom. Most of his participants made the Honor Role and Principal’s List while logging the fastest 5K times in the county.
- Marathon Kids began in 1995 with just 2,000 kids from the 80,000+ Austin Independent School District. The program’s popularity quickly grew statewide with hundreds of clubs in Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, the Rio Grande Valley and waiting lists forming in other cities. This year more than 100,000 Tex. children ran, maintaining its status as the state with the highest Marathon Kids participation numbers.
Learn more about the Marathon Kids program and how to join us this summer by participating in Marathon Kids at Home here..
Photo courtesy Marathon Kids