Off and running: Healthy Kids Running Series is back in person for spring season

Kids, get ready to run.

Healthy Kids Running Series is back in Cinnaminson next month, gearing up to get children  moving – and have a ton of fun while doing it.

“It’s great we’re able to get back out there in person,” Lauren Leight said. “I’m super excited.”

Leight is community coordinator for the Cinnaminson HKRS chapter, and after seeing the series go virtual last year due to COVID, she’s anxious to welcome children back to Memorial Park for the five week series in April and May. Things will run a little differently than in the past due to increased safety measures, but one thing will remain the same: Kids should plan to have a blast.

“All they’re really asked to do is run with their friends. By nature, they’re going to run as fast as they can and they’re going to have fun with it,” Leighton said, “and they’re going to feel really good about themselves when they cross the finish line.”

The series is open for children from age 2 through eighth grade, with 50-yard dashes for the youngest participants and up to one-mile runs for the oldest. There is also a Challenger Division, which is a 75-yard dash for children with special needs who may not be comfortable running with larger groups. Races are at 5 p.m. on Sundays from April 11 through May 16 (with no race on May 9), and the early bird cost is $35 until March 21, with an increase to $40 afterward.

In a world where children are now not only exposed to screen time, but more dependent on it for school and activities, Leight said activities such as HKRS are especially important.

“I have a 6-year-old and a 15-year-old, and they’re behind screens all the time,” Leight noted.  “The screen time is very draining. It’s been very tedious for them, and it’s just not normal.”

Anything that gets kids outside and moving is a plus in Leight’s book. And that’s exactly what HKRS is designed to do.

“The kids look forward to it. It’s not incredibly taxing. It’s fun for them,” Leight explained.

After a week and a half of open registration, 50 kids had already signed up. Leight expects a good turnout (past events have totaled around 200 participants), but it’s difficult to predict what post-pandemic numbers may look like. 

“I’m curious to see what the turnout is for the spring season this year,” Leight said. “Registration numbers are up in other states (with earlier registration).” 

The Cinnaminson HKRS chapter typically pulls from the township, as well as neighboring communities Palmyra; Delran; Riverton; Moorestown; Mt. Laurel; Cherry Hill; Willingboro; and Maple Shade, though participants can join any chapter.

The Cinnaminson chapter follows all state guidelines for COVID safety and has instituted its own rules to keep the series fast paced, fun and safe for everyone involved. Participants are  asked to wear a mask, with runners able to remove them just before their heat. Unlike past years, kids won’t be broken up only into age groups; there will be heats within each group, to help limit the amount of runners on the field so everyone can stay socially distanced. There are  no group warmups, no handshakes and no high-fives.

HKRS is not about being the fastest – it’s about having fun. Leight said with confidence that children not winning races still have smiles on their faces, and it helps that the nonprofit doesn’t promote winning.

“It’s always nice, but it’s not really meant for that,” Leight explained. “It’s really meant to just go out and have fun and move your body. It’s not a super-competitive environment.”

 

To learn more or to register, visit healthykidsrunningseries.org and search for the Cinnaminson chapter, or find the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HKRSCinnaminsonNJ. Leight encourages anyone unsure about committing to the series to come check it out on the first night. Registration remains open for one week after the first event.