Thousands of young people are getting outdoors, getting active and learning to love running with the Great Run youth running series. This year, organisers are asking their younger athletes to demonstrate their creativity too.
Whether new runners, budding athletes, charity fundraisers, or those out to enjoy a great atmosphere while being active the Great Run Junior, Mini and Family events are accessible to children of all age and abilities. And now with 13 runs for children and young people in 7 different locations across the UK it has grown into the biggest and best kids running series.
2020 is set to be the biggest year yet for the children's running events with more than 16,000 children and young people expected to take part, including in the biggest ever Junior and Mini Great North Run, which has again increased its capacity for the third year running to now welcome over 9,000 runners.
This year to coincide with the 40th staging of the Great North Run organisers will unveil an official Great Run Mascot. They are asking younger participants to demonstrate their creativity and passion for sport, by designing the mascot, giving them a name and a back story - what they like, what they do and where they are from. More details and entry forms are available at GreatRun.org/JuniorMini
The youth events all sit alongside their senior counterpart, on the same weekend or for some on the same day, allowing the kids to celebrate their own achievement and wear their medals with pride, just like the adults. It's not only about the running though, with activities, entertainment and food and drink in the event village the Great Run children's events have a real festival feel.
A Sport England study* from 2019 showed that children who are more physically active have improved mental well-being (described as happiness in the survey), are more likely to trust others of a similar age and are more likely to get involved in volunteering. Physical activity also contributes to their personal development with active children more likely to be resilient and keep trying even when they find something difficult.
The study also revealed that running / athletics is the third most popular sporting activity in 7 – 11 year-olds. The Great Run youth running series inspires children and young people to be their greatest and gives them the chance to see just how much fun running can be, setting up a love of being active for life.
One young athlete whose love of running has grown with Great Run is nine-year-old Zaynash from Glasgow. Zaynash and mum Albertina have travelled all over the UK to take part in Great Run kids events. Between 2014 and 2019 Zaynash ran in 36 mini and family runs, clocking up a huge 33.6 miles.
Zaynash first took on the challenge when she was 4 years old after her mum signed up for a Great Run, Albertina said “Zaynash wanted to run too and so I signed her up for the Mini Run and since then she's carried on and never stopped”.
The children's running events give young people the chance to run in unique locations, from a grandstand finish inside huge sports stadiums to closed roads in city centres or scenic seafront finishing straights. Whichever event they choose young runners can expect an electric atmosphere, masses of supporters to cheer them around the course and an unforgettable experience.
The Great Run youth events include:
The Great Bristol Family Run – Sunday 3 May
The Junior Great Manchester Junior Run and the Mini Great Manchester Run – Saturday 23 May
The Great North Family Run Gateshead – Sunday 28 June
The Junior Great North Run and the Mini Great North Run – Saturday 12 September
The Junior Great Scottish Run, Mini Great Scottish Run and Great Scottish Toddler Dash – Saturday 3 October
The Junior Great Birmingham Run and the Mini Great Birmingham Run – Sunday 11 October
The Junior Great South Run and the Mini Great South Run – Saturday 17 October
Entries to the Junior Great North Run open at 10am on 18 February and entries to the Mini Great North Run open at 10am on 25 February. Entries to all other Junior, Mini and Family Runs are open now visit GreatRun.org/JuniorMini to choose your event.
*Taken from Sport England's Active Lives Children and Young People Survey published December 2019. Full report available at https://www.sportengland.org/media/14325/active-lives-children-survey-academic-year-18-19.pdf