BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Finishing a marathon is tough, but getting started may be the hardest part. A program in Baltimore is helping young runners take their first steps.

Gigi Barnett explains the miles add up over a matter of months.

This is the first step for young marathoners to go the distance of a 26.2 mile race.

“I wanted to get exercise and I thought it was really fun,” said Piper Wiley.

Every one of these young runners is part of the Marathon Kids Program. Over the next six months, it trains students from schools across the area–between kindergarten and fifth grade–how to rack up the miles with walking or running.

So how hard is it to train for a marathon?

“Pretty hard,” said Evan Wiley.

“You have to stay in the lines and keep on running and don’t slip on your head,” said Leila Harding.

“Over the next six months, the teachers at the schools will implement it however it works best for them. So the kids may run a quarter-mile before recess every day, or they may run a quarter-mile before gym class every day,” said Marathon Kids program director Erica Gordon.

National program director Erica Gordon says, for the kids, this is their first marathon. They’ll learn how to fuel their bodies with healthy food, too. And not long after, parents will join in.

“It’s kind of inspired me to get better in shape myself,” said Jennifer Wiley. “I figured it would be good for the kids, as well.”

“My kids on the way here were saying, ‘Oh, our first marathon!’ It is for me as well. So we were all excited coming here,” said Lorena Harding.

The nonprofit says of the seven cities hosting a marathon kids run this year, Baltimore has surpassed all the others by signing up the most number of kids. So far, about 10,000 participants will run a marathon in Baltimore this year.

In the seven cities participating, about 300,000 young marathoners across the country will finish the run this year.


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