Kids in America need to get up and run. And Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS), the national nonprofit founded in 2009 to provide children with a fun introduction to the sport of running in an environment that builds confidence and self-esteem, is one of the best ways to get them moving. And run specialty retailers can certainly benefit by helping them along because HKRS is there to offer an inclusive youth running experience for kids ages 2-14, inspiring them to believe in themselves and live an active healthy lifestyle. 

We believe our cross-country inspired program encourages kids to adopt a “Get Up and Go” attitude. Our program helps kids connect the dots between being outside, moving your body and having fun. By making running and fitness fun, we’re setting kids up for a lifetime of healthy habits. 

This is how it works: Each week children run an age-appropriate distance, focusing on consistency and self-improvement over the course of the Series. Our youngest runners start with a 50-yard dash at age two, by kindergarten they’re running a quarter mile and by fourth grade they are up to a full mile each week. Every runner receives a finisher medal at the end of the last race. Over the course of the five weeks points are awarded based on placement and at the end of the season some runners may get a trophy. 

Exposing kids to a “race” is a way for them to compete with themselves and improve on their experience week after week, while also helping them learn about winning and losing in a positive environment. HKRS is most definitely not designed to be a competitive running event with a heavy focus on placement, times, points and trophies. And some locations only award trophies for the longer distances. The focus really is on making running fun.

Healthy Kids Running Series is an inclusive program. Kids of all abilities are welcome and we never turn anyone away who wants to participate.


An Inclusive Program

To that end we offer a Challenger Division for children with special needs and/or disabilities. These kids are often excluded from traditional youth sports, but are welcome at HKRS and participate alongside their peers. 

We also have a Registration Assistance scholarship fund for families that may need financial support. Our Underserved Community program is focused on bringing our races, and healthy activity opportunities, to areas with less access to healthy activity. Our mantra is “Get more kids running!”

Parents who are runners love HKRS. Many often wonder how they can get their kids involved in the sport they love so much in a way that is low pressure and won’t burn them out. By making sure running is fun, and allowing kids to participate with their peers and friends, we’re bringing running families together in a healthy activity everyone can enjoy. 

Many of the kids who start running with HKRS when they’re young go on to join their middle school track teams or continue recreational running as they get older. We especially love when high school track and cross-country athletes come back to help volunteer at the race course.

But there are plenty of kids who won’t go out for school sports and they are welcome, too. HKRS is a positive environment where runners are celebrated for their own accomplishments — however success is defined for them. Our goal is to make running fun so they continue in whatever way works best for them.

National Reach, Local Focus

Over the last 15 years we’ve been in 500 communities, serving close to 500,000 young runners. Yet this national reach is really driven by our local focus. 

The heartbeat behind any HKRS program is the Community Coordinator, the race director responsible for executing the program. Community Coordinators are active, involved members of their community. They seem to know everyone in town or they’re not shy about making new connections. They love talking about Healthy Kids Running Series and thinking of new ways to make race day a fun and exciting event. 

As a nonprofit, HKRS would not be successful without the financial support of our sponsors. Local sponsors enhance the race day experience and receive valuable benefits that build brand awareness and exposure in their local community. Sponsors receive signage and branding at the race, the opportunity to share discounts/promotions and the ability to be on site interacting with participants and their families.

Run Specialty Opportunity

Run specialty retailers and brands can get involved through sponsorship and as community coordinators. In fact, the general manager of Fleet Feet, West Reading, PA, Jason Corby, serves as the Community Coordinator for the HKRS Reading, PA, program organizing the event and making sure the kids in his community have access to the sport of running.

He also secures Fleet Feet, West Reading as the race bib sponsor for the Series. Fleet Feet’s logo appears on all the race bibs (five per runner) and he holds a “Packet Pick Up” at the store, increasing foot traffic and welcoming potential customers with the opportunity to learn more about the store, what they do for the community and what products they offer. 

“Sponsoring Healthy Kids Running Series provides value to Fleet Feet because it makes a personal connection with local runners and fitness enthusiasts in our area,” he points out. 

Corby also invites the local run club and college athletes to volunteer at the races in the finish line chute, starting lines and along the turns. This helps improve the race experience for the kids and also gives them the chance to see the runners in their community helping out and showing encouragement. The kids are learning that there’s an entire community of people ready to support them through their running journey.

Community Coordinators love giving back to the running community by ensuring the next generation of runners have a positive and fun experience. Corby also loves teaching the kids about sportsmanship and being a good teammate, as well as the fundamentals of running and the importance of stretching and warming up.

Healthy Kids Running Series is working hard to bring the sport of running to as many kids as possible and partnering with run specialty retailers and brands is an essential part of that mission. It truly is a mutually beneficial relationship.