2 January 2023
Children are welcome to run at parkrun from the age of four upwards. Those under eleven should always run within an arm’s reach of an accompanying adult, and over-elevens can run alone. The parkrun mantra is to maximise the enjoyment of running and make exercise a social and positive experience, making it a great activity for children of all ages.
There are some things to consider when taking young children to parkrun, especially if it’s their first time.
Parkruns can get very busy, with over one thousand runners at some events. Though the events are well-organised, such large crowds can be daunting for some children.
At a distance of five kilometres, parkruns can also be quite long for little legs. UK Athletics advises that children under nine should avoid regularly running over two and a half kilometres. Walking the course is allowed, and there’s the option to stop part way round (though you won’t get an official time if you do). Bear in mind parkrun rules state that children cannot be carried, even in a harness or carrier, so it’s important to make sure your children are up to it before you start. It might be worth checking out your local parkrun’s homepage, which contains a course map and description, so you can assess the route beforehand.
For the younger children there’s junior parkrun, which many parkruns hold as extra events on Sunday mornings. If your child is aged between four and fourteen, they can take part. These events provide a version of parkrun tailored for children. They’re quieter than regular parkruns, and have fun features such as milestone certificates, and colourful wristbands for finishing.
Safeguarding children is the priority at junior parkrun. Marshals are positioned in such a way to ensure that children are always in view and safe, and there’s a constant network of marshals covering the whole course. This means children can either run alone or grown-ups can join them. It’s the marshals who really make junior park run what it is. A junior parkrun marshal is a guide, guardian, cheerleader, and coach all rolled into one! (Fun group warm-ups are led at all junior parkruns as standard).
There are certain exceptions to parkrun age rules. Children over fifteen with special educational needs are welcome to run in junior parkrun. Buggies are permitted on the main parkrun so parents with very young children can still take part.
Children are welcome to volunteer at all parkruns. This could be an excellent opportunity for you and your children to go along and check out the event. Volunteering will help you to get to know your local parkrun and decide if you think it's a good fit for your children. As a spectator or volunteer you’ll easily get caught up in the atmosphere, and it won’t be long till you’re itching to join in.