Stragglers and Ranelagh Junior Runnning Group
Kingston upon Thames
Enthusing Minis and Juniors from 2 to 15 years to get out in the fresh air and enjoy running as one of life's skills, This in turn helps in other areas such as academic subjects and general physical and mental health.
This year is our 15th anniversary year. The events are organised by 8 or 10 members of the above two clubs as well as support from parents/guardians and teachers.
We have 6 events during the summer from April to August, roughly once a month.
Our event is a Handicap Race, any child who has entered previously will have their Best Time in our records. Based on this children are given a start time: Pre-school (under 5s) start at zero minutes and are the first to begin and run one lap (250 meters). At 5 minutes the next set of runners begin, (those with the slower personal bests), then the next set of runners being based on their personal bests), then progressively other runners begin. Everyone over 5 years old completes 4 laps (2 Km).
Each runner has the incentive to chase those who started before them and to improve on their own best times. The handicapping system often works very accurately bringing many runners of varying abilities all across the finish line within seconds of each other. Very rarely does the Fastest Runner actually come first and in this system almost anyone who runs well can be first across the line.
First time runners will set their own Personal Bests for the next race and are given a special ‘First-Timers’ medal for taking part.
Over the 6 race season there is a points system that rewards the most improved with medals. The fastest children are rarely the ‘Best improvers’ and so there are also awards for the outright fastest girl and boy.
We have an Achievement Shield for which there is no criteria just someone or a group who stand/s out for those of us on the organising team.
One year it was the Mini who was 2 1/2, she has cystic fibrosis and has to wear calipers as well as having a hearing aid and all of us felt that she was such a happy little person that she lit up the whole course smiling and waving as she ran around the course.
Last year it was a young person who had moved onto senior school but still came back to run for his junior school and to help and encourage the other new runners. His former teacher said that it would be absolutely wonderful for him because he wasn't finding senior school easy and was often being bullied. So to have achieved something like this would help his self-confidence (especially as the shields and trophies are a decent size so will stand out).
In the main I think that the unexpected achievement of the SRJRG group is that it boosts the youngsters self-confidence and gives them a sense of achievement even if they don't win medals they can see from the results that they have done a PB (personal best) which is what most aim for.
You might also be interested to know that the Junior parkrun originated not from the Senior parkrun but from our group which I feel is some achievement.
The Junior parkrun is very successful and I thought it might mean that we were surplus to requirement but all the parents tell us that the children can't
wait for the next season to start. This is because being a handicap series it is different and we can have younger Minis running it because it is in front of the clubhouse and they are always in sight. Also the juniors get medals each month for the first boy, first girl, second and third runners. Every participant gets a medal the first time they take part that they can take it into school for 'Show and Tell' assembly.
For our 15th Anniversary Relay we had teams of 3, one Junior, one Adult and another Junior. We were surprised to find that quite a few adults had never run before but were keen to take part. We all felt that this was a big success to get adults inspired to take part in running with their children.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We are still trying to encourage young people with disabilities to take part. We have made a small start and one of our runners, who is 16 and autistic, has asked if he can help with the SRJRG series which is great. We have a few other autistic children so we need to reach more.
The number of young people that it might help is difficult to say, suffice it to say that 15 years ago we started with 12 participants and last week we had 110 participants. A lot of these participants were from a local school and the head teacher said that it had made a big difference to the children and the whole school was enthused because every child, no matter how fast or slow they run, earns points for their team so they feel that they are valued and that it is worthwhile taking part. The more we can reach the better.
We would be delighted to receive some funding from GRG as we would like to be able to sponsor one of our special T-Shirts so that everyone, when they come to their first event can receive one so that they feel part of a team, different colours but the same logo, for each school, club or group. If all the children have one of the T-Shirts then this would make them feel more inclusive and part of the whole event.
")Quote from a parent :
‘The junior handicap has grown and evolved in a wonderful way over the past 15 years. From humble beginnings it is a veritable hive of activity these days, a real success. From its early days of involving just a couple of local running clubs it has now drawn in other sections of the community from local schools. It is wonderful to see children enjoying being active. The atmosphere is a perfect balance of children working together/helping each other to achieve their best, while, at the same time fostering a fierce ‘eyeballs out’ competitiveness to beat the children running alongside them! May it continue to go from strength to strength.’
Quote from one of the volunteers:
‘Not far from me a small girl stopped for a moment, immediately her friend took her hand, saying, "Come on we'll do it together." And they ran on hand in hand.
I was trying to describe it to someone the next day, and their reaction also was that it sounded chaotic. I explained, as I see it, we are the base line for Children's Running, it's not our aim to coach children, it's our aim to enthuse them about running, so that they have fun and want to run some more another time.
I saw 110 happy children having FUN, that's all that needs to be said.’"