AlertDon't miss the July 31 deadline to make your TCS New York City Marathon baggage and transportation selections. 

Fun Run/Walk

A Fun Run is a casual event that elevates the enjoyment and camaraderie of running above competition.

Tags: event guide, fun run

Typically, everyone runs or walks the same distance and the event is not timed or scored. It's an event for children of all levels and abilities and a great way to showcase and celebrate fitness goals and achievements. You can plan a Fun Run for one or more schools and community centers and also invite parents and community members. It can also be built out to include games, themes, and other engaging elements.

1- EVENT LOGISTICS

Great events start weeks in advance with thorough planning and forethought. Use the following resources to prepare:

2- LOCATION/VENUE

Pick a location that is safe and accessible, then establish a course for the run using a distance that is challenging but attainable for your kids.

  • Based on the time and space you have, as well as the fitness of your participants, we suggested using a distance between ½ mile and 4 miles.
  • Measure the course accurately.
  • Mark the course clearly on race day using cones or chalk.
  • If participants will be out of sight for all or part of the course make sure you have plenty of marshals to guide runners and monitor the course.
  • If participants need to run multiple laps use cones to divide the course (and have runners do the 1st lap on the outside and the 2nd lap on the inside or establish another tracking system to separate the laps and avoid confusion).

View a sample course layout for a Fun Run

3- MANAGING GROUPS

If you will have a lot of participants and/or a narrow or small course, plan on splitting the participants into groups, known as heats, and start one heat at a time.

  • We suggest no more than 50 runners per heat.
  • If you have time, allow each heat to finish before the next heat starts. If not, start each heat a few minutes after the previous one clears the start line.
  • Decide how to organize heats in advance (you can divide participants by gender, class, age group, height, skill, or simply by random assignment).
  • Plan for a way to identify and separate the heats. One option is to have separate spaces with signs for each group to gather and then walk each group to the start when it is time. Another possibility is to distribute colored or number stickers or colored wristbands to identify each heat and check the identifiers as runners approach the start line.
  • Gather each heat 15 minutes before their start time so you have time to make sure all the right participants are there and ready.

4- WARM-UP

We suggest you start the event with a group warm-up where you gather all participants together and have them follow along as someone leads a simple warm-up routine.

  • Position the warm-up leader above the runners (on stairs, a stage, a hill, etc.) so everyone can see.
  • Play fun music during the warm-up (and throughout the day, near the start and finish and/or where participants will be congregating).
  • If you have a sound system you can give the warm-up leader a microphone, but we find it is more important for kids to be able to see the leader in order to copy their movements than it is to hear them.
  • Check out these sample warm-up activities to get some ideas:

5- PRIZES

If you give out ribbons, patches, or other small prizes have someone stationed at the finish line to hand one to each runner as they cross.

  • For this event we suggest acknowledging participation rather than performance. If you are interested in a more competitive event consider our Cross Country Race or Track and Field Event. You can also contact us at youthprograms@nyrr.org for more information on how to put on other types or variations of events.
  • Instead of handing out prizes as runners cross the finish line, you can give batches of the prize to each of the teachers/coaches for them to distribute to their group.

6- WATER AND SNACKS

After the finish be sure to have water (and snacks if the event will be long).

  • Have 24 oz (3 cups) of water for each participant if there aren't available water fountains.
  • Set up a water table after the finish. Buy gallon jugs of water and small cups.
  • If the event will last longer than 3 hours consider providing a snack (such as fruit, granola bars, or packets of pretzels). To keep track of who has received the snack give batches to teachers/coaches to distribute to their groups, or give them out to runners as they cross the finish line (keeping them in one orderly line), or you can require a ticket or somehow mark each student as they receive the snack.

7- WRAP-UP

Congratulate all the runners and thank the helpers and spectators. You can also do a group cool-down like the group warm-up.

8- ADDITIONAL IDEAS

Parade of Banners

Invite groups to create class or school banners beforehand and kick off the event with a mini-parade where kids show class pride and enthusiasm. Follow this with the group warm-up.

Game Stations

Set up game stations for kids to participate in after the run to keep the fun going or while other heats are running to keep them active and engaged while they wait.

  • Use any games you like, such as obstacle courses, tug of war, relay races, or see the Field Day Event for more ideas.
  • Organize kids into groups and rotate from station to station on a schedule, or allow kids to move around on their own, going through each station as many times as they like.
  • You will need staff to manage each station and possibly some equipment based on the games you choose.
     

Theme

Give your Fun Run a theme. Examples include healthy eating or holiday themes. Check these theme ideas and ways to incorporate them.

9 - RESOURCES

A complete list of all the Fun Run/Walk planning documents: 

Event Planning Guide (pdf)

Planning Timeline & Checklist (pdf)

Fun Run/Walk Staffing & Supplies Checklist (pdf)

Fun Run - Sample Course (pdf)

Fun Run - Theme Ideas (pdf)

Youth and Schools