Kids Run the World: Nike Partners with Marathon Kids


By Nike

“My favorite part of Marathon Kids is running!” — Audrey, age 11

Pounding heart. Sweat. Speed. Laughter. The joy of the run.

Running is as fun as it is challenging and fulfilling. On top of that, it’s a uniquely accessible sport with significant physical and psychological benefits that have the potential to last a lifetime. Each stride is a step toward improved health and wellbeing. Running is the foundation of every athlete’s journey.

We know that good habits start early in life. This is why Nike is proud to announce a new partnership with Marathon Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of children by providing them with the tools, motivation and support to live happier, healthier lifestyles. The Marathon Kids program engages kids in a positive, simple, goal-driven running program that challenges them to run the equivalent of up to four marathons (from 26.2 miles to 104.8 miles) over the course of a three-, six- or nine-month running club season or school year.

Active kids work and play better. They score up to 40% higher on tests and are 15% more likely to go to college. They also have increased concentration, better school attendance and behavior, healthier eating habits and a stronger sense of self than inactive kids. Research shows that inactive kids are more likely than active kids to grow up to be inactive adults, with significant health consequences.

The reality is that there’s a physical inactivity epidemic and Nike is committed to helping end it, starting with kids, by providing early, positive experiences with sport and physical activity. Partnering with Marathon Kids is a step (or mile!) in support of that effort. We know that most kids can walk at least one mile every 20 minutes. So this is a great way to make physical activity part of their future and give them the support necessary to get moving.

Together, Nike and Marathon Kids will reach over half a million kids across the country in the next two years. Kids will learn to embrace running, discover their athletic capabilities and find their love of movement, with the full support of Nike, Marathon Kids and their friends, families and coaches behind them. By rallying entire communities and neighborhoods around physical activity, this partnership has the power to change the way we make sport a part of our lives.


“If you have a body, you’re an athlete,” says Jorge Casimiro, Vice President of Nike Global Community Impact. “The biggest takeaway we want the kids to get from this partnership with Marathon Kids is that they’re athletes, too. By helping kids fall in love with sport, we’re helping break the cycle of inactivity.”

Like Nike, Marathon Kids was founded by a runner who experienced firsthand the transformative impact of running. Marathon Kids began in 1995 in Austin, Texas, when the aforementioned runner, inspired by completing her own Runner’s World running log, wanted kids to experience that same inspiration and accomplishment. In the last year, more than a quarter of a million kids aged four to 12 have completed the Marathon Kids program, achieving incremental milestones to reach 26.2 miles over several months. This year, Nike and Marathon Kids are excited to introduce a new goal — for kids to reach the ‘four marathon,’ or 104.8-mile mark, over the course of the program — helping inspire kids to dream, and run, big.

In the nearly two decades since its founding, Marathon Kids has worked with schools, community groups and parents across the United States to support and empower kids to get active while having fun — tracking their miles, learning about healthy eating and coming together in a positive social environment.

The first 10 years of life are game-changing in terms of developing healthy habits. Dr. Harold W. Kohl, with The University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston School of Public Health and one of the lead researchers on Marathon Kids’ scientific advisory board, confirms that we, as a culture, are having trouble getting moving. And just as physical inactivity can lead to serious consequences, an active lifestyle early in life has profound effects on overall health and longevity.

“For years, kids have been told to sit down and be quiet,” he says. “Now the realization is that we may actually be hurting kids’ ability to learn and their test scores by making them sit and be quiet and not giving them physical activity breaks or incorporating programs such as Marathon Kids, and giving these kids the chance to be active.”

In partnering with Marathon Kids to motivate and inspire kids on their fitness journey, Nike will help create a stronger, healthier future. Participants will join Nike’s global community of athletes, receiving special product incentives for achieving marathon milestones. They will also experience personal support and encouragement from the whole team at Nike, including Nike volunteers within local Marathon Kids clubs and families.

“We want to be an intervention that changes the community, and the program offers kids the opportunity to actually change their entire perception about physical activity and running, in particular,” says Christine Pollei, Marathon Kids’ Executive Director.

“At the conclusion of the lifetime of their program, kids walk away feeling great, not just about themselves and their achievement, but about running. We love that.”


Marathon Kids is on a mission to get kids moving. The nonprofit organization offers free physical education programming through Marathon Kids Connect, a cloud-based PE and run club management platform that includes a mobile app for digital activity-tracking.