The finale of the Wicklow Marathon Kids event saw 650 primary school children descending on the Arklow running track to welcome Olympian David Gillick to their end of programme event.
David Gillick, who competed in the 400 metres and 4×400 metres relay at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, was on hand to inspire the young participants and lead them through a series of exercises and stretches before they embarked on their run.
The event was a huge success with children and teachers praising the initiative and the opportunity it provided for young people to stay active and healthy. Speaking afterwards, David Gillick said: “It’s great to see so many young people out here today, having fun and being active. I hope this event has inspired them to keep running and to stay active in the years to come.”
The Marathon Kids eight-week programme targets 5th and 6th class students who learn the health benefits of physical activity and perform four running sessions per week. Over the course of the eight weeks the children run 26.2 miles to complete their first marathon.
Michael Nicholson, Director of Service, Wicklow County Council, expressed his admiration for the children’s hard work and dedication stating: “It is truly inspiring to see these young children pushing themselves to achieve such a great goal. The Marathon Kids event promotes not only physical activity, but also discipline and perseverance, which are values that will serve these children well in all aspects of their lives.”
Carol Coad, Chairperson, Wicklow Sports and Recreation Partnership, congratulated everyone on their Marathon Kids journey and said, “there was a positive atmosphere and a great sense of achievement at the event.”
The Marathon Kids event, which had children of a range of abilities coming together to celebrate their achievements, could not have taken place without the volunteers from the Arklow Junior Park Run that takes place every Sunday morning at Arklow Duck Pond. These volunteers and the teachers epitomise the dedication required to deliver such a programme and to have a meaningful impact on young people’s lives.
Praising the initiative, Cathoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Tommy Annesley, opened the event saying: “I was delighted to see so many children take part in the Marathon Kids event” and encouraged them to follow in the footsteps of the famous Arklow born Olympian Ronnie Delany.
Emer O’Gorman, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, said: “It’s important that we encourage our young people to get involved in physical activity and develop a healthy lifestyle. Events like Marathon Kids are a great way to do this, and I’m delighted to see so many young people taking part in Wicklow.”
Aisling Hubbard, Coordinator, Wicklow Sports and Recreation Partnership, added: “Wicklow Sports and Recreation Partnership were delighted to facilitate this programme and give primary school children the opportunity to keep active. We would like to thank all the teachers for their support and congratulate the children on their achievement of running 26.2 miles over the last eight weeks.”
Over 700 children took part in running a marathon over eight weeks in Wicklow. The children were from the following schools: St Coens Rathnew, Gaelscoil Chill Mhantain, Tinahely NS, Crossbridge NS, Coolfancy NS, Scoil Mhuire Na Naird, Carnew NS, Rathdrum Boys School, St Saviours, Our Lady’s School Rathdrum, St Joseph’s Templerainey, Carysfort NS, St John’s SNS and Scoil Naisunta Naomh Padraig Bearncle.
Information on all Wicklow Sports & Recreation activities can be found at www.wicklowlsp.ie.