“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
Over the last two weekends, my kids ran two different fun runs. One was sponsored and coördinated by the local hospital, with the goal of promoting health and fitness. The other was sponsored and promoted by a school, with the goal of raising funds for the financial aid fund.
One had post-race entertainment consisting of healthy homemade foods, a variety of physical activities, and a live band playing kids’ music. The other had a free can of soda pop for each kid that ran.
Pop Can Fun Run
The Pop Can Fun Run drew hundreds of local kids between the ages of 2 and 10 to have fun and promote health and fitness. The race was run in heats by age (2 year old race, 3 year old race, etc.). The 2 through 4 year olds ran down the block about 0.1 miles.
The 5 through 10 year olds ran down the block and back, about 0.2 miles. Boys and girls ran in separate heats, and it was especially great to see so many girls at the race! (The photo above is the start of the 5 year old girls race)
Yet, with all its potential, the Pop Can Fun Run left a bad taste in my mouth. Despite the event being sponsored and run by the local hospital, right next to the hospital, to supposedly promote health and fitness, each participant (including the 2 year olds) could claim their own can of soda pop after they ran.
Something just doesn’t sit right with me when a hospital hands out free sodas to kids. Yes, they did need to run for it. But is that what we’ve come to? We need to bribe our kids with soda to get them to come out to a race?
I should expect higher standards from a hospital, and yet somehow I’m not surprised. What a great event for educating the public! Yet there were no nutrition pamphlets or advice to be seen, no nurses talking to families about how to keep their kids healthy, and no displays or activities promoting fitness.
Wasting such a golden opportunity for public health education would have been bad enough, but handing out free soda to kids took the cake.
For more on why I think handing out sodas to kids is such a bad idea, check out my previous post on the scary truth about sugar for runners.
CVMS 5K And 1 Mile Family Fun Run
Although not as well attended as the Pop Can Fun Run, the CVMS 5K and 1 Mile Family Fun Run (which drew less than 200 participants across both events) was outstanding! Sponsored by the Chemung Valley Montessori School, the purpose of this event was “to help our students, families, and communities focus on the benefits and fun of fitness while fundraising and supporting those in need.”
Both the 5K and 1 Mile events were kid-friendly — and in many cases entire families ran together. The entire 1 mile course, and the majority of the 5K course, went out and back on a rail trail (pictured below). Some kids ran the whole way. Some ran and walked. Some stopped to pick flowers or look for birds in the marshland adjacent to the trail.
All of the kids had fun, and none of them completed the event so they could get a soda at the finishers’ tent.
After the race, kids and families were welcomed onto the school playground to enjoy homemade food including (but not limited to) a variety of fresh fruits, hummus, pasta salad, and granola bars. An inflatable was set up next to the kids’ band so the children could bounce away what energy they had left after running while the band played kid-friendly music like “Cheese Man”.
All in all it was a fabulous family event — just what a family fun run should be.
So what do you think? Am I being too hard on the hospital? Chime in with your comments below!
Good luck with your marathon training!