Crowds Turn out to Complete Nz's Biggest Kids Marathon
Crowds Turn out to Complete New Zealand’s Biggest Kids Marathon Despite Weather Forecast
AUCKLAND, Sunday 22 September 2013: Over 500 kids ran their final mile of the Rod Dixon KiDSMARATHON, cheered on by the programme’s namesake and Sir John Walker.
Despite forecasts of thunderstorms and heavy rain, kids and their families braved conditions and were rewarded at the finish line with sunny skies and medals for their efforts
The children were some of the 3500 schoolchildren, aged 7-12, from thirty Manukau-area schools that took part in the first North Island Rod Dixon KiDSMARATHON programme
Rod Dixon, founder of the international programme, says the Manukau programme has the potential to be the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere within the next two years.
“It was inspiring to see these children complete the marathon and see the pride in the eyes of their parents at the finish line. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from the community and we predict this event will triple in size next year,” says Dixon.
Over the space of 8-10 weeks the kids have run a full marathon, 42.2km, broken down into manageable distances that have been run from scratch - building fitness, endurance and confidence. Each child has a Rod Dixon's KiDSMARATHON booklet and logged each kilometre, run on a course around their various schools. The booklet also contains information on nutrition and overall health.
Rod Dixon started the programme over eight years ago in conjunction with the Los Angeles Marathon, and now has more than 210,000 young participants in the United States. Earlier this year more than 10,000 schoolchildren ran their final mile at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The programme has the President’s Seal and is supported by the first lady Michelle Obama.
“These kids are fantastic, but they all want to race out from the starting line at full speed. Our challenge is to get teach them that it’s the long game that’s important – I can’t remember how many tortise and hare stories I’ve told,” says Dixon.
“KiDSMARATHON is about creating a fun environment to develop a lifestyle of healthy exercise and nutrition habits, it also empowers kids with the knowledge and character to achieve in the classroom as well,” he says.
A line up of local diganarities congratulated the kids for their efforts and helped hand out medals at the finish line. Rod Dixon was joined by Sir John Walker, Callum Penrose, Brent Catchpole, Ross Robertson and John Robinson.
Another goal of the programme is to be a proponent in stopping childhood obesity.
Counties Manukau has one of the country’s most diverse ethnic makeups, including New Zealand’s largest Maori and Pacific populations, coupled with some of the highest levels of childhood obesity.
“The Ministry of Health tells us that one in five children between the ages of two and 14 are overweight, and one in 12 are obese. Three in 10 children are at risk because of excessive weight,” says Dixon
The programme in Manukau was made possible through the efforts of Counties Manukau Sport and the generous support of the New Zealand Community Trust, the Dragon Community Trust and the Blue Sky Trust.
The Rod Dixon KiDSMARATHON will reach even more children, with plans next year for it to be rolled out in a number of regions in New Zealand.
“Finishing is winning… winning is finishing,” Rod Dixon, Olympian and New York Marathon winner 1983.