A Tale Of Two Races


“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…”

From A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

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!