One of the most rewarding things as a parent is watching your kids grow up and show interest in the things they love.

What is even more rewarding is when you realize that the things they love are also the things that YOU love. 

It isn’t just food he loves, it’s RACE FOOD!

It isn’t just food he loves, it’s RACE FOOD! Just like his mama…

My youngest does love food but why I chose to include this particular picture is because it’s of my youngest son perusing the post-run snack table after his very first organized running event!

Earlier this year I took my oldest son to the Colour Me Rad 5k in Surrey and he absolutely loved it. The pride on his face was simply delicious. Yes, delicious. So when I found myself home with the kids while Hubs was traveling a couple weekends this summer, I was excited to take them to a few local kids races.

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And, we’re off!

It’s no secret that I’ve really grown to love the 5 Peaks Trail Running events here in Vancouver but did you know that they also host two fantastic kids races at each event? A shorter, untimed 1km run for the younger kids and a timed, 3k event for the older ones. My little guys are only 3 and 4 so we chose to try out the 1k fun runs at two different 5 Peaks events this year.

At 5 Peaks Seymour, my youngest enjoyed the run (not so much the wipeout in the middle but he got over it quickly) but maybe not as much as he enjoyed the post-race food…


The poor little guy said, “Mommy! I won the food race!” whatever that means…

And at 5 Peaks Buntzen Lake, they both thought the run was amazing and thoroughly enjoyed cheering for the rest of the racers after their event was done…

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My oldest knew to clap and cheer while my youngest just flashed his most charming ‘smile’ as everyone ran by…

It’s only been 3 running events between the two of them this summer but I feel like I’ve learned a few things from introducing my young children to the wonderful sport of running.

5 tips for getting your kids' first race 500

Here are 5 tips for your kids’ first race to help make it a success…

1. Pick an event appropriate to their age and experience level

Not all kids races are created the same! Be sure to pick something at or below their ability level to make sure you don’t overwhelm them. Chat with the race director or others who have done the event in previous years to make sure it’s appropriate and pick something with a fun twist or in a special location if you can (colour runs, neon runs, costume runs and trail runs are great for this!) 

2. Pick an event you can run with them

My kids are pretty little but even older kids might feel intimidated to head out in a pack of other kids if they’ve never run a race before. You know your own kids best but picking an event where you can run along with them is a great way to get them started.

3. Teach them your pre-race and post-race routines

My boys seemed pretty proud to be invited to run one of ‘mommy’s events’ but puffed up their chests even more when I included them in a little pre and post-race routine. For breakfast we talked about making sure they ate the right foods to give them the energy they’d need and after the race I explained why and what runners eat for proper recovery. Tip: the chocolate milk and oranges were a big hit!

4. Run at their pace

If your kids are old enough you could have a lot of fun egging them on but if they’re little like mine, slow and steady is the name of the game. I let them set the pace and just trotted along beside or behind them and of course, made sure they beat mommy across the finish line.

5. Pick a race with swag

If you can, taking them to an event that has medals or swag of some sort is a great idea. It doesn’t really matter what it might be but seeing their huge smiles of pride as they receive their medal or ribbon is so worth it. My boys cherish their ribbons and have paraded them through the show-and-tell circuit at school a few times!

Above all, be sure to include them in your running community

Your kids have already shown interest in running (that’s great!) but part of having them remain interested is getting them to feel like a real part of your running community. I made sure to introduce the boys to all of my friends, race sponsors and the Race Director and everyone was always so happy to pump up the little kids. I also tried to find little ways the boys could volunteer and help out which was a big hit as well. Getting to be part of a grown-up event was a big deal to my little guys and getting to be a part of all aspects of the event meant a lot to them.

Getting to play in the lake afterwards didn’t hurt either!

Getting to play in the lake afterwards didn’t hurt either!

Talking to your kids about your hobbies shows them what activities are meaningful to you. Including them in your training, warm-ups, cool downs and preparations teaches them about all of the hard work that goes into something you love. But including them in the actual events so they can experience it for themselves, gives them the chance to maybe start loving it too.

Have you taken your kids to any kids races yet?

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  1. Karen G.    

    Love this! My kids have ran a few races, and I absolutely love watching their excitement!
    (And you’re totally right, race swag is a BIG deal)! 😉
    Karen G. recently posted…Week 11 of Richmond Marathon TrainingMy Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      You bet it is! I know I love it even as an adult so it just makes me smile to see how special they felt receiving those ribbons. Priceless.

  2. Kristi@Blog for an Average Runner    

    Welcome to the world of running with your kids – you will love it! My guys also started when they were little. Evan, 11, has now done more than 40 races and Luke, 9 is probably over 30. Evan even organized his own running event for his friends and raised $ for the Humane Society – you can check it out at
    The boys have now done 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k and 6k races. They have learned so many valuable lessons from running, it has helped them become the people they are now. I actually have an article about this very topic that will be in the November issue of Running Room magazine.
    Everything my boys have learned from running will help them in all other aspects of their lives. Right now they have taken their passion for running and applied it to their new sport of orienteering – another activity I highly recommend for kids!
    Kristi@Blog for an Average Runner recently posted…The End of a Perfect DayMy Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      Oh my gosh, this is so amazing to read. I’ve met so many runners who have run big races like half marathons with their grown children and now that I have little kids, I can only dream of doing that when they’re older. I didn’t realize there would be so many opportunities to involve them at younger ages though, I just loved hearing about everything your boys have gotten into. I hope mine continue to love it! Thanks so much for sharing this!

      1. Kristi@Blog for an Average Runner    

        If you want a fun running/walking activity for you to do with your kids, check out orienteering. My kids just participated in the North American Championships (sounds very formal but like a race weekend, all levels are invited) and I noticed that Vancouver was represented. I don’t know if their local events are like ours, but here for a few bucks you can enter a novice course and do it with your kids. You get to be out on the trails spending time together and having a great time. Since my kids are older we each do the course separately and then compare what routes we all took on the intermediate courses. Later in the month we are doing an event where the four of us go out as a team and have 2 hours to find as many of the “controls” (where you punch in) as we can without going over the time limit. Should be fun! Toughest part will be keeping up with the boys – they’re faster!
        Kristi@Blog for an Average Runner recently posted…The End of a Perfect DayMy Profile

        1. slowfastnik    

          That sounds SO cool. I’ll have to check it out and see what the youngest ages are that could participate. We went on a nice long ‘hike’ today and they just loved it. The orienteering sounds cool, thank you so much for sending along all this info!

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