The Healthy Kids Running Series, the brainchild of founder and president Jeff Long, a former track athlete at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and an entrepreneur who looked for and found a way to get young boys and girls interested in running, will hold events in 300 locations in 36 states this year. Long says that with an average of 1.5 start-a-race applications a day he expects more than 70,000 runners to participate this year.

Long started Pattison Sports Group, which focuses on Event Management, Corporate Consulting and Property Representation, in October, 2008 and a year later the Healthy Kids Running Series debuted. What began as a simple Pattison Sports Group community giveback program turned into a seven-week program in the fall of 2009 and then again in the fall of 2010. It was shortened to a five-week series in 2010 as a Spring Series was added in 2011.

“The thinking behind HKRS was to put out as much positive energy in the community with the hope we would get that same energy back,” Long explains. “We are a service company whose mission is to serve kids.”

Healthy Kids Running Series Healthy Kids Running Series is organized as a 501c3 non-profit corporation, and the heart of the Series is its Community Coordinators, the women and men who organize the programs in their local communities. They are typically a female between the ages of 32-45 and most have full-time jobs, so their biggest challenge is finding the time and developing the expertise to market their Series while leveraging their network of friends and sponsors.

They are first responsible for finding the facility to host the races – which range from a 50-yard dash for the littlest runners up to a mile for the middle schoolers – and then marketing the Series and securing volunteers to help execute the five weeks.

All registrations go through the national HKRS website and forwarded on to the local Coordinators. They receive half of the net profit and HKRS headquarters receives the other half to invest back in the program in the form of IT solutions, travel to map out courses, medals, trophies, insurance, rental fees and the rest.

The Community Coordinators have the ability to grow their Series as big as their facility will allow — most locations can handle 300-400 young runners because races are broken out by distance and gender. The larger Series have up to eight heats on the 50- and 75-yard dash, with 30-plus kids per race.

All of this effort is directed at the young runners, starting at an incredibly cute two-years old up to 14-years old., and it all adds up to Healthy Kids Running Series laying claim as the largest co-ed youth running program in the country

Long stresses that involvement in the Healthy Kids Running Series can be quite a boon for local running stores, many of whom are already involved as both sponsors and Community Coordinators. Among the stores already involved in various capacities are New Balance, Fleet Feet, Bryn Mawr Running Company, Blue Ox Running, Charm City Run, Foot RX Running Asheville, Haddonfield Running Co., Lucky Road and many, many other local stores.

Kids, on your mark, get set and go to