Race Etiquette for Kids: Prepping Is Par for the Course (Get It?)

We need your help again, gals: This week we are recording podcast about 5K races. We want to hear many voices on the topic.

Please record a Voice Memo, starting with your name and where you live, then tell us why you love, hate, avoid, or are addicted to 5K races. A standout memory. A goal you keep striving for. The buzz you get from one. The Voice Memo should last 1 to 2 minutes total.

Please email your Voice Memo to runmother [at] gmail [dot] com by 5 p.m. PDT today (Tuesday, July 19). Thank you VERY much!

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Meagyn sent us this comment recently regarding seeing a lot of kids, some as young as preschool/kindergarten aged, running a 5K with their parents this past weekend. While not all races are open to kiddos, she mentioned maneuvering around the little ones, especially 8-9 year olds who "seemed to be running on their own and not understanding the rules of the race, which side to pass on, you can't come to a dead stop mid run, etc." threw her off her (9 min/middle of the pack) pace. We posed the question on Facebook and overall, the response was pro kid. We've culled some great tips (from the 120 comments!!!) from the Tribe for prepping kids (and adults, cough, cough) with race etiquette:

I think we should be the helpers.. take 2 seconds and say "careful sweetie, walk on the side so you don't get run in to." Runners have such a great community, let's encourage the kids to keep going, and make them feel a part of the community.
Mattie Porter

Looking at the majority of kids in America and how unhealthy they are, I think it is amazing to see kids running races and I highly encourage it! I would love to be tripping over kids during a race if it meant they weren't at home sitting on their butts playing video games. And I also feel like me not reaching my goal time is totally worth it if I had to be stuck behind some kids doing their thing.
Jonna Hatton Anderson

I love it when kids are out racing/running! If you want a fast race or PR, then pick your race accordingly. I get my kids involved in races/runs as often as I can but we talk about walking to the side and being aware of other runners. My hope is that they'll grow up loving to run and will learn healthy habits now! And besides...running is always better with a medal at the end!
Carissa Howard

Love seeing the kids involved and moving, but almost think courtesy rules should be mentioned before the race. My peeve right now are the walkers and strollers starting mid-pack, not at the back!
Susan Schwartz Breske

Support the kids and help them learn--they didn't benefit from having someone teach them in advance. I have had more issues with adults performing these bad behaviors than kids. All 3 of my girls started running with me when they were 4-5 doing 5ks. When they started to beat me around age 7...I would get to observe their interactions on the course as we looped by each other. I loved how nice everyone was to them on the course- shouting you go girl! (Especially in tris where your age is on your leg). Be that person, encouraging them. I always make it a point to encourage the young ones.
Stephanie DeWeese Sadowski

There are lots of races geared towards families and others are clearly not. Know what you are signing up for and be prepared.
Deanna Hays

I say encourage them! Heck, teach them the rules kindly on the course! I love giving encouraging words to kiddos struggling on courses. If you see them stopping mid course, maybe say, "Ekk, scoot to the right hun! Hate to see someone make you a speed bump."
Annette Becker Stoffel

I've run hundreds of races and the kids are always the best part!
Katie Oglesby

Have anything else to add? Tell us in the comments section below!

5 responses to “Race Etiquette for Kids: Prepping Is Par for the Course (Get It?)

  1. I recently ran a small 5K race in town and an elementary aged girl was running in my zone…her parents were no where to be seen…so every time the course changed or a dog scared her or something else through her off her game, I was the only adult around. It was awkward. I sort of felt that she was too young to be running by herself without a parent within eyesight. That is something the parents should consider.

  2. Kids races here (Arizona) are usually separate from the adult races. My question is who asked to run the race? Did the kid really say “I want to run a 5k” and understand or have ever run the distance. The “Girls on the Run” races have the kids enter a 5k-but it’s strictly (mostly) an event for them after they have trained for it and parents I think, are required to monitor/run with their kids. Kids learn by example…if mom/dad aren’t running or lead an active lifestyle, kids will rarely break out of that mold and become something their parents have never been…

  3. Good points Jill. What I like about fun runs are how inclusive they are. And, yes, they are not the place to try for a PR. But you also don’t want to injure another runner, particularly a child, or yourself. However, if I were a mid-pack runner (which I am) trying to set a PR (which I am not), I would not start at the front. That is also creating a dangerous situation. Much safer to pick a competitive run for a PR.

  4. A lot of 5K’s are just community organization-run, so it would be easy to try and corner the race director to prompt them for some upfront “rules of the course”. Especially if you are a runner who is involved with the local running community. I just love to see the Couch-to-5K movement growing and growing to add runners to our community, and as a consequence there are a lot of folks who might not be familiar with race rules. I cringe a little bit at the idea of trying to “educate” runners (kids or adults) during the race on the course, as it might be construed as a little bit discouraging and unfriendly in that particular context. If you are focused on a 5K PR or any other run plan with intensity, seed yourself in the front and/or pick your race. The local FunRun is not the place for intensity; it’s the place to encourage all runners to love our sport.

  5. I understand Meagyn’s frustration, but I love seeing kids participate. I am more frustrated by adults who don’t seed themselves properly, run in packs so you can’t get around them, or come to a dead stop with no warning. I don’t mind people who run with baby joggers or dogs, as long as they allow enough space.

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