Making moves to tackle child obesity with fun run in Limerick
The Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run in association with the University of Limerick has announced details for the Kids Run for Fun, now in its second year. Helping to launch the event at the University Bowl were: Tom Marsden (11), Mark Donnellan (11), Ciara Macken (12) and Jane Byrnes (12). Photograph: Alan Place
T he organisers of Ireland’s biggest fun run for kids are hoping to get children from as young as four out on the running track in an effort to combat the country’s high level of child obesity.
The Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run, in association with the University of Limerick (UL), yesterday unveiled details of its Kids Run For Fun which takes place in UL on May 3rd next.
This is the second year of this event and, due to its success last year, the numbers of children, aged four to 12, allowed to take part has been extended to 2,000.
Speaking at the launch, co-organiser Joe Leddin said it was shocking that 100,000 children in Ireland are obese.
“This is a frightening statistic and out of the 27 EU member states, Ireland has the fifth highest rate of child obesity. It is shocking. It’s like everything, if you get kids involved from a young age, it is a great discipline,” said Mr Leddin.
With four feature distances open to children, the UL
kids’ run will cover 1km, 1.5km, 2km and 2.5km on the university grounds. Wheelchair athletes will compete the relevant distances on the track.
According to Prof Paul McCutcheon, UL vice-president, “As a university we are conscious not only of the attraction of sport but also of the long-term health benefits of sport and, in particular, for children and young people. “I want to pay tribute to the organisers of the UL Sport Kids Run for Fun for encouraging young people to engage in physical activity.”
UL’s director of sport, Dave Mahedy, also spoke yesterday of the importance of engaging children in physical activities from a young age.
“One of the big problems is people are stopping kids running around the playground because they might fall and hurt themselves but the knock-on of that is they are going to get big and unfit.
“But we are trying to balance that by saying there are activities you can play and take part in.
“You have got to encourage them and subtly encourage them by setting them a challenge like this and it’s not a huge run. They might like it and decide they would like to join a club or something else,” he added. “Putting the right things in their way to choose the right option.”
Seeing influential sports stars training in UL, such as Paul O’Connell in the gym or Gráinne Murphy in the pool, will also encourage children, according to Mr Mahedy, who said that children “can strive to imitate those because they have seen it first hand”.
Limerick Sports Partnership will co-ordinate a four-week lead-in training plan in schools in the run-up to the May bank holiday event.
Registrations for the not-for-profit event are now being invited on greatlimerickrun.com.
Similar to competitors in the Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run six-mile, half-marathon and marathon events, which take place in Limerick the following day on May 4th, each child will receive a GLR T-shirt and medal.
A registration fee of €12 applies to all participants with €5 returned to the primary school of each participating child.