Schools Half Marathon has announced an expansion across the UK for this inspiring and potentially life-changing initiative, to encourage primary schools to get their pupils active and work towards an exciting Half Marathon goal whilst being rewarded along the way for their achievements.
What started out as a trial in 2017 became the Shropshire Primary Schools Challenge in 2018, and it proved such a success that it has quickly grown to become a nationwide Schools Half Marathon, with challenges taking place across the UK in 2019.
Initially aimed at primary school children, the Schools Half Marathon gives children aged 4-11 the chance to complete their very own cumulative half marathon in a supportive, non-competitive environment. With a half marathon representing 13.1 miles, the challenge sees young runners complete the first 12 miles at school over the course of a term or half term, before running the final 1.1 miles on a set day in front of family and friends at a large scale running event.
The Schools Half Marathon is a fantastic way for children of all abilities and backgrounds to achieve something as significant as a half marathon and earn their own medal for their efforts. It is very much an inclusive challenge where over a period of time children can develop new, healthy habits to exercise regularly, stepping away from screens and electronic gadgets, gaining confidence along the way and sharing the joy of their sporting achievement with their peers.
With a dedicated achievement chart to log each mile run, a tracker chart for each classroom to log the miles, a glow in the dark wristband at Mile 6 and a technical t-shirt at Mile 12, there is motivation every step of the way as pupils, teachers and even parents join in the fun of a regular mile run.
The culmination of all the hard work is race day, where children are treated to a full race day experience including race bibs, a marshalled 1.1-mile route, music, commentator and a start and finish line gantry. For many, this is their first experience of a big sporting event and the atmosphere is superb as the children are cheered over the finish line and celebrate with friends, teachers and families.
As the original Schools Half Marathon, the Shropshire Primary Schools Half Marathon is testament to the success of the scheme. A two schools trial in 2017 led to its implementation in 2018, with over 850 children from 21 schools taking part and earning their rewards as they progressed. The challenge was warmly received by schools, with many putting their PE and Sports Premium towards it, and there was a waiting list for the 2019 event long before it launched.
For 2019, Schools Half Marathon is growing significantly with events confirmed for Shropshire (6th April), Telford and Wrekin (15th June), Brighton and Hove (22nd June), Stockport (1st July) and West Sussex (14th July). The organisers are working on more regional events for Primary Schools, the eventual expansion of the Schools Half Marathon to Secondary Schools and a dedicated Half Marathon for Parents.
Schools Half Marathon Director Joe Williams commented, “We are thrilled to launch the Schools Half Marathon after years delivering the challenge locally in Shropshire. We have received incredible feedback from schools, teachers, parents and pupils and it is very exciting to now extend the challenge to schools nationwide in the UK initially.
“As a father of three, I am a big believer in getting kids outside and active and creating downtime from screens and electrical devices – and if we can make an activity fun, with an exciting end goal, then it’s much more likely to become a long-term habit changer. The great thing about the Schools Half Marathon is that it instills a positive attitude towards sport from an early age, whilst promoting inclusion, boosting resilience, increasing confidence and improving mental health. We can’t wait to welcome youngsters from all over the UK to the Schools Half Marathon in 2019 and help them work towards their own amazing half marathon goal.”
Schools Half Marathon Director Rebecca Richardson added, “Joe and I are hugely proud of what we are building here together and with the industry supporting. I have worked in the sports industry, and specifically running, for over 25 years. I firmly believe in the power of sport to enhance people’s lives, and I am passionate about making a difference for future generations by encouraging a positive attitude towards activity among children. I am delighted to have joined forces with Joe through UK Run Events to help bring the Schools Half Marathon to schools and school children across the country, and to help youngsters of all abilities gain confidence through sport. We have seen an amazing pledge of support from all sectors of sports businesses and the industry and we both look forward to announcing details about this soon.”
Any school wishing to take part in the Schools Half Marathon can find out more and fill in an Entry Form on the event website: www.schoolshalfmarathon.co.uk/event-directory, or get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost to each school is £12 per child, which can be considered effective spending of their PE and Sports Premium. Children receive a wristband, technical t-shirt and medal for their efforts, as well as an achievement chart each and a wall tracker for their classroom. Parents and guardians also receive a wristband matching their child’s race bib number for pick-up and repatriation at the finish line area.
Rebecca and Joe are encouraging teachers, schools, parents, school governors, business owners and the sports industry to support Schools Half Marathon and are welcoming anyone to get in touch who feel they can help drive this potentially life-changing movement forward with them.
Go to www.schoolshalfmarathon.co.uk to register and for further details. You can also like UK Run Events on Facebook, and follow @ukrunevents on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest news #SchoolsHalfMarathon.