Oh no, mamas! The school year is almost over and we’re all staring down the long summer days to come. The first few
weeks days hours fly by in a flurry of activity: morning cartoons and cereal, bike rides, play dates, bubble blowing on the back deck! Then, one of the kids bursts the illusion that summer is going to be free of the never-ending struggle with two simple words: I’m bored.
BORED? Are you kidding me, half-pint? You have a bajillion toys and the sun is blessing us with its warm, shimmery rays… go play! Of course, if yours are like mine, instead of playing, they’ll stand at the back door and complain about everything they can: it’s too hot, they’re hungry, the wading pool has a bug in it. What’s a mom gotta do to catch a break around here?
Grandma’s Marathon to the rescue. No, I’m not suggesting you vy for a bib and take out your frustrations on mile six of a half-marathon (unless that’s your thing!). I’m suggesting you get your hands on their COMPLETELY FREE summer youth races schedule and memorize the heck out of it. The Young Athletes Foundation, a division of Grandma’s Marathon, has a robust summer fun run schedule that will keep kids active and engaged through running all summer long.
Wednesday Night at the Races
At 5, my own daughter is a veteran runner, and regularly participates in Wednesday Night at the Races. For six consecutive weeks in July and August, families meet up at different tracks and fields around the Twin Ports–like Hermantown and Superior High Schools–so children can run off energy during short, age-categorized races. The kids are excited and full of pride (especially when they get their participation ribbons!), the volunteers are supportive and helpful, and the moms and dads are happy to have an hour or two to socialize with friends and neighbors.
The Wednesday Night at the Races series culminates with a race night at Wade Stadium. Once finished, families are welcome to sit down and enjoy a classic picnic feast featuring hot dogs, watermelon slices, milk, and other yummy treats to refuel little runners. No need to sign up for each race night ahead of time; come for the ones you can. Registration each Wednesday starts at 5 pm and races start at 6 pm.
Whipper Snapper Races
Northlanders know that summer doesn’t officially start until Grandma’s Marathon weekend. Rain or shine, the air in Duluth always feels celebratory. Make sure the kiddos get to participate by piling them in the minivan and heading down to Bayfront Park for the June 16th Whipper Snapper Races. With a line up mirroring the summer’s later Wednesday Night at the Races series, the Whipper Snapper starts at 2 pm with the youngest age group (girls and boys ages 4 and under) and works on up to the speedy 14 year olds.
The Whipper Snapper Races was my daughter’s first race. She was all of three years old and ran with the might and determination of a kid three times her age. When I scooped her up at the finish line, she gleefully told me, “Mama, I ran really fast, didn’t I!” My heart felt so full! She has several ribbons tacked up onto her bedroom’s cork board now, but that first one is still my favorite. The Young Athletes Foundation youth races are certainly great for channeling kid energy into activity, but they also provide children with the building blocks they need to foster a healthy, lifelong relationship with exercise and sport; the races bolster kids’ confidence and cultivate endurance.
Park Point 5-Miler
What about you, mama? Are you a runner? Are you thinking about dipping your toes in the world of running? There’s still time to train and register for Duluth’s oldest race: the Park Point 5-Miler. Head down to Park Point on July 13th. The kids can participate in their races before the main event while you cheer them on. After, they can watch you morph into an awesome role model as you run a 5k, or even walk the 2-miler.
You don’t have to run full marathons or sign up for an entire summer of racing in order to show your kids that exercise and running is beneficial to everyone in the family. Participate at a level that’s comfortable for you, even if that means jogging along side your little ones while they fly on fast little feet toward the finish line. Your participation, support, and encouragement will change some of those whiny summer “I’m bored” statements into enthusiastic inquiries: “When’s the next race, mom?”
Yeah. Summer parenting. You just nailed it.