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Nike and Kids Run Free call on children to run a marathon

Today, Nike and UK charity Kids Run Free are officially launching their Marathon Kids programme nationwide, after successful pilots across 30 London schools which have seen almost 9,500 kids run 65,000 km* – or the equivalent of 1,500 marathons – already this school year.

Today, Nike and UK charity Kids Run Free are officially launching their Marathon Kids programme nationwide, after successful pilots across 30 London schools which have seen almost 9,500 kids run 65,000 km¹ – or the equivalent of 1,500 marathons – already this school year.

The national launch event, which will take place today in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium at Chobham Academy in East London, will be attended by a host of athletics stars, including British Paralympic medallist David Weir and junior athletics champions Shona Richards and Sabrina Bakare.

David Weir, British Paralympic wheelchair athlete and supporter of the programme, said:

“As a father myself, I know how important it is to give kids a chance to get moving. Marathon Kids is a great way for schools to get kids running – it’s simple, any child can do it and every child can benefit from it. I’d encourage any school to give their pupils a chance to become Marathon Kids.”

Today’s generation of children is the least active ever. Only one-in-five boys and one-in-six girls in England meeting current guidelines of at least one hour of moderately intensive physical activity every day. This means that children today may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, living five years less than them.²

Yet evidence shows that active kids do better. Amongst other social and wellbeing benefits – including improved self-esteem and social skills – physically active children achieve up to 40% higher test scores and are 15% more likely to continue to higher education.³

That’s why, in September 2016, Nike and Kids Run Free joined forces to bring running programme Marathon Kids, to UK primary schools. This unique programme, which has already been rolled out to 30 schools in London, provides kids aged 4 to 12 years-old with a fun running experience, helping them to get active early and for life.

Marathon Kids uses effective tools such as goal setting, self-tracking, role models, rewards and celebration moments, alongside excellent support for parents and teachers, to help children achieve their potential. Eventually, children involved in the programme run the equivalent of up to four marathons over the course of a school year.

By setting their own realistic goals in the programme, children are inspired and empowered to take part and this habit sets them up to continue their personal growth in later life.

Schools get direct support from Kids Run Free to set up their programme. Each school has access to a web-based tracking system to follow children’s progress. Teachers receive a guide on how to get kids running, as well as kilometre logs and certificates. Schools also have the option of purchasing additional Starter Kits and rewards from Kids Run Free, with a donation going to the charity. These rewards include Nike-branded stickers, wristbands and medals.

Kids Run Free has a proven track record of delivering running programmes in schools and parks across the country and has already helped to get over 50,000 children running regularly, achieving their own marathons one day at a time. It hopes to reach even more UK children in the 2017/18 school year, by expanding its existing partnership with Nike – Marathon Kids – nationwide.

David Moorcroft, former Olympic middle-distance and long-distance runner, and patron of Kids Run Free, said:

“Programmes like these are crucial to providing children with the right tools to get active now and for life. That’s why I’m so pleased to see Marathon Kids rolled out in even more schools across the UK this year and the next. It’s a real investment in our kids’ future.”

Dan Burrows, Senior Director for Global Community Impact Europe at Nike, said:

“We’re incredibly proud of our partnership with Kids Run Free to get more kids across the UK active through the Marathon Kids programme. At Nike, we believe sport has the power to move the world and unleash human potential. But we know that today’s generation of kids is the least active ever. That’s why we’re excited to be expanding this partnership nationally, because we know active kids are happier, healthier and more successful.”

Mark Elms, Primary Principal at Chobham Academy, said:

“Marathon Kids is a great way for schools to encourage children to be active during the day. Kids Run Free provided us with all the help we needed to get started. Our students enjoy tracking their progress towards their marathon goals. The teachers have also seen the benefits transfer to the classroom, from improved behaviour to increased concentration.”

During the event to launch the scheme nationwide:

  • Nike and Kids Run Free will celebrate the achievements of participants to date, including six year-old Daniel Lewis – who recently ran a marathon in 6 hours, 10 minutes and 57 seconds over the period of one month to raise money for Kids Run Free.
  • Kids will have the opportunity to meet Nike Athletes David Weir, Shona Richards and Sabrina Bakare.
  • They will be able to ask them questions about their career, run further laps together with the athletes and get their picture taken with them.

For more information and to find out how your school can sign up to Marathon Kids, please email: Or visit the Marathon Kids website.

¹Figure based on the 11 schools that sent their data-tracking statistics to Kids Run Free. Estimation based on the average distance run per child involved in the programme (7.62km).

²Health Survey for England 2015 Physical activity in children, Health and Social Care Information Centre.

³Designed to Move, Nike The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), 2012