PAUL ROUSE: This is your chance to take a step in the right direction

US middle distance runner Ashley Higginson running with kids on Global Running Day last year.
US middle distance runner Ashley Higginson running with kids on Global Running Day last year.

Ireland’s incidence of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and colonic cancer (to name just three) is way above the European and global average, writes Paul Rouse.

So many people complain about children not getting enough exercise, about children being stuck inside, surfing the net or engrossed in TV or a video game, about children being obese and lazy.

Recent studies show the participation of children in sport in Ireland is actually in decline — just as is the case with adults. The decline is slight, but it is undeniable.

The drift towards sedentary behaviour is repeated time and again in survey after survey.

Studies on childhood behaviour, for example, show that only 19% of primary and 12% of post-primary school children meet basic physical activity recommendations and these proportions have not improved since 2004.

Ireland’s incidence of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and colonic cancer (to name just three) is way above the European and global average.

The link between the contraction of these illnesses and physical inactivity cannot be ignored or wished away.

Well, here’s a chance to do something about it.

Global Running Day is on this year on Wednesday, June 7. The premise of the day — which is organised by the New York Road Runners — is that it intends to unite people around the world in a celebration of the joy of running.

Last year — the first ever staging of Global Running Day – 2,500,120 people took part in events in some 177 countries around the world.

The participants ran a total of 9,250,443 miles between them. Some ran the length of the street they lived on, others took off for hours.

In Ireland, The Irish Runner celebrated Global Running Day with its own 35th birthday celebrations and – in association with Athletics Ireland — organised a mile run on the famous track at Morton Stadium in Santry.

Other successful events took place around the country and, globally, part of the success of the day was driven by the support of top runners such as Haile Gebrselassie and Paula Radcliffe.

Radcliffe said: “Running has brought me so much pleasure over the years and taught me so much about myself and others, and about how to live life to the fullest and get the best out of myself. I am passionate about sharing the joy and liberty of running with as many children as possible so that they too can experience the camaraderie and fun.”

This is your chance to take a step in the right direction

The people who pledged to run in 2016 told the organisers why they were doing it. Some said it was ‘To clear my head’, ‘To sweat’, ‘To feel free’. Others said it was ‘For a cause’, ‘For someone who can’t’, or simply ‘Because I can.’ The centrepiece of this year’s event is the Million Kid Run. This is — as the name suggests — an attempt to get one million children to go running on June 7, 2017. The greater ambition is to introduce children to try to get children to embrace running as part of their everyday life.

The New York Road Runners are the organising force and unlike the drift towards facilitating elite participation in many sports organisations, they are dedicated solely towards getting as many people of every age actually competing (rather than spectating).

They are the people behind the New York City Marathon and also host more than 50 other races each year throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

At the core of their endeavours are year-round free programmes for all ages, from kids to seniors, that are designed to get people moving toward a healthier lifestyle and to “Run for Life.”

More than 215,000 schoolgoers are served through the free New York Road Runners youth running programmes, events and resources. There are also Open Runs, a community-based initiative that brings free weekly runs and walks to local neighbourhood parks in New York City, as well as the New York Road Runners Striders, which are coach-led walking sessions held weekly in senior centres, community facilities and parks.

Michael Capiraso, President and CEO of New York Road Runners explained: “Global Running Day was started in 2016 as the evolution of National Running Day in the US, which was started in 2009 by leading running organisations throughout the nation and has been held annually on the first Wednesday of June ever since. It began as a collaborative effort by running organisations and races who shared a passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving.”

In many respects, the first staging of Global Running Day on June 1, 2016 was a stunning success, drawing in many, more people around the world than expected. As well as events in New York, there were kids’ and family runs in Monaco, and Belarus, a midnight run in Atlanta, a sunrise run in Rome, an evening run in Tokyo, relay races in Berlin and a 5K fun run in Los Angeles.

The underlying ethos of what the wider running community were trying to achieve was eloquently set out by the Director of the Boston Marathon, Tom Grilk: “While running is certainly a sport, athletic clubs and race organisations such as ours also promote and recognise the recreational activity and benefits of running. We know the important contribution running, jogging, walking and any physical movement makes towards health and fitness. Whether in groups or as individually, we’ve witnessed the strength borne out in running. And on top of all of that, most of all it can be fun, especially when we get out with friends.”

To be a part of Global Running Day, simply visit globalrunningday.org and commit to run next month. And then just go and run.

And if you wish to organise an event in your area, that website also has a full pack of posters and postcards and certificates.


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