familyMany parents find that running is their ideal form of exercise. They don’t need to go to a gym, they are able to stay in shape, and they can have a brief span of alone time to get outside, listen to music, and clear their heads. However, even though they’re physically capable, many parents won’t plan to run a race because races are traditionally not child-friendly events.
The way to convince parents of young children to run in your event, then, is to make your race more family friendly! By making your race an event that both runners and their children want to attend, you’ll not only beef up your current participation, but you’ll cultivate good feelings about running among the younger generation. Here are four tips for making your race more family-friendly.

1. Get the kids running.
Kids can be more than spectators — they can be active participants! They’ll love feeling like part of the action, and the photos of them triumphantly raising their arms as they cross the finish line will be priceless. A shorter course, like a mile, 1k, or even a 100 yard dash, is perfect for younger kids and can be held before or after the longer main event. For older kids, include their age group in your race so they can compete along with the grown-ups. And of course, medals for kids who complete any course are a must.

2. Boost the visual appeal.
Runners in running gear are pretty standard for most races, but that’s not very interesting to look at when you’re a kid. Costumed runners, however, are much more fun to watch! Encourage race participants to dress up by offering awards for the most creative costumes. Kids will love coming to watch everyone go by, and many will even want to put on dress-up garb themselves.

3. Include activities for kids.
Even waiting 25 or 30 minutes for mom or dad to finish a 5k can feel like an eternity to a kid. And, unhappy kids at this year’s race may mean their parents won’t be able to participate next year. Make your race more family-friendly by having fun things for kids to do at the starting and finish line. Consider setting up near a park with a playground so kids can climb and play. Or, if that’s not an option, renting a few bounce houses or other inflatables for kids to play in will make your event a huge hit with the little ones. Volunteers who can keep little ones happily occupied by doing race-themed arts and crafts projects or face painting are also good.

4. Let them ride.
Running is a great way for new moms and to get back into shape, and the sight of the young parent trotting along with a jogging stroller is a pretty common one these days. To make your race welcoming to new families, allow runners to participate with little ones in a stroller. This brings in participants who may have been concerned about daycare, and it gets your race in good favor with the mommy-and-me crowd.

The good news is that all four of these ideas are easy to implement and can have significant impact. If you’re missing the parent demographic from your race’s participants, try one or more of these suggestions at your next run. With the right follow-through and some good marketing efforts, your event will be known as a family-friendly race in no time.

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