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Are Park Runs Safe for Children?

2 January 2023

Park Runs are organised by volunteers in the community. Children are welcome to participate in a fun and inclusive atmosphere. There are 5km open events on Saturdays at 09.00 and junior 2km events especially for ages 4-14 on Sundays at 09.00. You may be wondering whether these events are safe for your children to take part in - if so, read on.

Although the events are informal, the organisers adhere to health and safety procedures.  Enthusiastic volunteer marshals are out on the course. There is a First Aid Kit and incidents are recorded. The course is risk assessed and checked at each event. 

Adult Supervision

At the 5k Park Runs children under 11 must have a responsible adult within arm’s reach at all times. Aged 11 and over the organisers try to ensure a safe environment and take on a duty of care although ultimately the child remains the responsibility of the parent or guardian. The course may be muddy and through woods where children might take a wrong turn. The start line might be a few hundred strong so guidance from an adult will be reassuring.


At the 2km Junior Park Run events children are free to run without an adult and there are enough marshals around the course to make sure they follow the right path. Marshals encourage and praise the children usually high-fiving them as they pass. Children still need to be accompanied to and from the event until they are 11, with adults being present for the entire event. Where there are wildlife, for example deer, the marshals will always have the children in sight. Dogs are not permitted on Junior Park Runs. A member of the event team always follows the race to make sure no-one is left behind.

Parents carrying children on the run must walk for safety.

Don't Overdo It

For children under 10 running 5km is a long way so it’s important not to pressure them to run fast and it’s ok not to finish. Doing it too often might be harmful since they are growing. It can put pressure on their knees and ankles. How much exercise and what other activities they do during the week needs to be taken into consideration. At Junior Park Runs there is a guided warm-up whereas at the open runs it is assumed people will do this for themselves.

At Park Runs children can go at their own pace. They can walk all or part of the course and stop if they need to. There’s no pressure to complete although times are given to those that have registered for a barcode. Children can over-exert themselves and overheat more easily than adults so keep an eye on them. Some may need guidance to slow down or stop altogether.  

Get The Right Shoes

Park Run courses are on grass and tarmac or a combination of the two so running shoes with cushioning are important. It's important to bring water too.

The enthusiasm at these events should not be underestimated and the positive effects of participating usually far outweigh the risks. It’s a sociable event where everyone is out to enjoy themselves. As long as your child is keen to run, let them have a go!

Photo by Tobias Rademacher on Unsplash

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