This topic has been talked about in the running circles for a long time. I’m sure that if you have ran any type of race, from 5K to Marathons, you have noticed a younger child running in the races (usually with their parents).
When speaking with other runners there is mixed opinions on whether or not children should be allowed to run in longer races such as marathons. There are potential problems that most seem to gravitate towards, such as the child being too small to see in the crowd or possibly that their body can just not handle it.
Both areas for concern for parents who have children that want to run and for runners who do not want to accidentally injure a child during a race.
There have been studies that have shown that children have been injured increasingly as the years progresses in running related activities. Most of these injures are from sprains or from falls (scrapes, cuts, etc).
However, other studies have shown that in specifically marathon racing, children are less likely to get injured compared to their adult counterparts.
So basically there is a lot of mixed information out there for parents to scrutinize over.
Running, in general, is one of the fastest growing activities over the last few years both for fun and for weight loss purposes. Due to this, more and more children are going to participate in running activities as the years progress.
So should these children be allowed to run marathons or other long distance races?
So far the evidence is pointing more at yes, as long as parents and coaches are teaching proper running form and training.
As the sport becomes more and more popular, scientists and coaches are sure to study the effects of certain training situations and their effects on children, but until then caution is a parent’s and coach’s best friend!