Runners in the 2017 MaraFun.

Virtual MaraFun provides kid-friendly training program, fun race experience

The Saskatchewan Marathon’s MaraFun program — which gives kids aged five to 13 an opportunity to complete a marathon in a novel way — is going virtual again this year.

Parents, teachers or other adults can sign up to be group leaders and gain access to a training plan that will help them guide young participants to run, walk and wheel 40 kilometres over six or 10 weeks before capping off the program with a 2.2-kilometre race.

Here are five things you need to know about the program:

1. The training program is designed by experts

The kid-friendly training program is put together by staff at Craven SPORTS Services and, not only does it outline specific workouts and activities, it includes advice on how to set goals and eat properly. Participants will also be able to access videos on yoga and muscle training.

“It’s a slow-start program,” explains MaraFun race director Jeff Culbert. “You don’t need to be scared, you don’t need to be professional runners to follow this great program.”

2. New this year: choose from a six- or 10-week training plan

Previous iterations of the MaraFun have featured a 10-week training program. That option remains but this year team leaders can also choose to take part in a six-week compressed program.

The 10-week program begins March 15 and the six-week program starts April 12. Both cost $20 per youth participant. Team leaders register for free.

3. New this year: Register the whole family

Register a family of four for the six- or 10-week program for $70. One person will assume the role of team leader. All participants will receive race shirts and medals. Additional family members can be added for $15.

“Because of COVID this is a great year to really encourage families to work together and to just get outside,” Culbert says. He’s signed up to lead a team that includes his 10-year-old niece and six-year-old nephew.

4. Speaking of race shirts and medals…

All team leaders will receive a “MaraFun in a box” with goodies for their young charges including shirts, medals and chalk to create a finish line for the final 2.2 kilometre run.

“We’re still putting a lot of excitement in there and there’s a few other surprises that I won’t mention that will be thrown in there for the kids’ fun factor,” Culbert says.

5. Fun from anywhere

People don’t need to be in Saskatoon to take part in the virtual MaraFun. “Anyone can do this anywhere,” Culbert points out. So whether you live in rural Saskatchewan or Newfoundland, you can sign up a team today.

For more information on the MaraFun or to register, go online.