Like lots of children, Jess Hamilton is looking forward to swapping her home school teachers for her actual educators when the lockdown lifts, but the 10-year-old is most-excited about running with her friends again when Marathon Kids starts up once more, targeting an incredible 15 marathons in this academic year – the equivalent of 393 miles.
Jess currently leads the Marathon Kids (MK) community in terms of laps completed of her school playground, accumulating the equivalent of over nine marathons already from September through to March and her Mum Sophie has been quick to praise the programme which enables school children to get into running with their teachers and friends.
‘I had no idea that she was a runner, so Marathon Kids basically gave her the opportunity to develop a skill I didn’t know she had,’ said Sophie, a P.E teacher at Tudor Grange Academy Haselor primary school, which Jessica attends. ‘She just loves running, she completed 11 marathons in 2018/19 and it really was the
springboard to other things too. It boosted her confidence massively, and other children look up to her in a way they might not have done previously, and obviously it’s great for her physical wellbeing.
‘As well as continuing with Marathon Kids, she’s also joined Stratford Upon Avon Athletics Club, where she’s been able to start cross country and made new friends in the process. I don’t think that would have happened if Marathon Kids hadn’t been available at school,’ she added.
Marathon Kids is a nationwide initiative designed to get children into regular running at school, and sits alongside Park Kids which hosts weekly running events in local parks and green spaces in order to do the same. Children complete laps of a 250m course which are added on to the Digital Tracking System (DTS) that showcases how far each budding athlete has clocked up. More than 22,000 children are registered on the DTS this year alone, with over 140,000 being involved since Marathon Kids and Park Kids was set up 10 years ago.
Despite the lockdown, Jess is keen to smash her 15-marathon target as soon as possible.
‘Running makes me feel free and there is no right or wrong way to do it. It just makes me feel happy. It is something anyone can do over your own distance and at your own speed. I like to motivate others running MK especially the younger children,’ she said.
‘I was thrilled to hear Jess’s story, and how she’s benefited from Marathon Kids in the last couple of years,’ said Martine Verweij, CEO and Founder of Kids Run Free.
‘She is a great example of why we set up the charity a decade ago. We believe there are so many children like Jessica who will be inspired by running Marathon Kids regularly who might not have the opportunity to do so otherwise. For Jess running has become an integral part of her life and I hope she continues to run and improve her skills. The mission is to inspire children for life. Some might go on to become elite athletes, however, for the majority running is what they need to feel free and it is a great way to make friends. This is exactly what we aim to achieve,’ she added.
INFORMATION: Would you like to hear about Marathon Kids in more detail? Please visit www.kidsrunfree.co.uk or email [email protected]