Lace up those sneakers.
New York Road Runners is launching a new youth initiative, which begins this fall with a series of cross-country running races in Van Cortlandt Park.
The four weekend races, for 10 to 14 year olds, are meant to be an introduction to racing for kids without much running experience, said NYRR spokeswoman Laura Paulus.
“It’s a very non-intimidating atmosphere,” she said of the races.
The races range from 3/4 to 2 miles on a flat course, said Paulus. The distance makes the races more challenging than most youth components of adult races, but is short enough to not require training.
“It’s still doable for a kid with little to no running experience,” said Paulus.
The kids are timed and scored like a real race, and they will be able to look and track their stats from one or more races online.
“It’s a fun opportunity for them,” said Paulus.
The goal of the series, which will also host indoor track and road running races in the winter and spring, is to introduce kids to the concept of racing, said NYRR spokeswoman Jennifer Slomack.
“Maybe you’ll like it so much you’ll become a regular runner,” she said.
The new intitiative rose out of a gap in NYRR’s youth services, said Slomack. The organizations offer two youth programs to schools free of cost, and registration for the programs, Mighty Milers and Young Runners, are open to schools now. But Slomack said that the organization wants to engage kids whose schools do not participate in the program.
“We didn’t have much to offer,” Slomack said, before the idea to host open races.
The initiative is part of the organization’s mission, “Run for life,” said Paulus, and they try to get kids engaged, in addition to offering programs for adults and seniors to facilitate the healthy habit.
In addition to having health benefits, running also teaches kids about goal setting, working with incremental improvements, and striving for your personal best, said Slomack.
“That will help them achieve in any aspect of life,” she said.
Another benefit of the sport is that it’s inexpensive, said Slomack, since it requires no equipment or specific space.
“They just need a pair of sneakers,” said Slomack.
The Youth Running Series Races is itself an inexpensive activity, she said. It costs $10 to register and includes a t-shirt.
The Youth Running Series races will take place Sundays, September 14, September 21, October 5, and November 16 in Van Cortlandt Park, starting near Broadway and 242th Street. A fifth event will take place on Sunday, October 12, at Clove Lakes Park in Statan Island.
Learn more about the series and register at NYRR.org.