For 26 years, Marathon Kids has impacted the lives of millions of kids as one of the only evidence-based structured physical activity programs for children in the United States.

Marathon Kids' flexible volunteer-led coaching model is proven to help increase physical activity and improve athletic self-perception among children.

Research-Proven Methods

Review our unparalleled collection of evidence-based programming proven to get kids moving.


Students in Marathon Kids schools showed significantly higher outcomes on key measures such as increased physical activity and athletic self-perception. BIPOC students reported the highest program satisfaction, which is important given research that found athletic identity to be positively associated with physical activity in elementary and middle school children.

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Phase II: Promoting Physical Activity Through Marathon Kids

A high percentage of Marathon Kids schools incorporated more time during the school day for walking and running, with significant differences found between Marathon Kids and control schools.

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Evaluation of Strategies for Increasing Parent Involvement

Additional support provided to the two enhanced parent communication conditions resulted in increased parent exposure of the Marathon Kids program as well as enhanced program outcomes related to student tracking of miles and attendance at Marathon Kids events.

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Strengths and lessons learned documented in this study provide a strong foundation for the overall approach of Marathon Kids. Engaging and co-learning with the vibrant Marathon Kids’ community-produced best practices for advancing Marathon Kids’ mission of providing a path for healthy youth development through running.

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All studies conducted by the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
at the University of Texas School of Public Health – Austin.

Evidence-Based Pillars

Research findings from studies conducted shaped the Marathon Kids program by determining six evidence-based pillars to long-term healthy behavior adoption.

Goal Setting
Marathon Kids helps you create realistic and attainable goals for your kids. We provide you with tools and resources to support these goals for your running program.

Group Tracking
Marathon Kids helps your running program keep track of individual and total miles with both paper Mileage Logs and a digital dashboard + scanning app, Marathon Kids Connect.

Marathon Kids prioritizes modeling in our programming. If the coach makes health a priority, then your kids are more likely to do the same and will carry it on for a lifetime.

It’s proven that celebrating helps to encourage long-term healthy behavior adoption. We provide clear instructions for throwing a Kick-Off Ceremony and Finisher Celebration to motivate and celebrate your running program.

Social Support
A Marathon Kids program is fun and empowering. Setting goals, staying accountable, and moving together will motivate your kids to keep active. Living a healthier lifestyle is easier and more enjoyable when you feel the support of others.

Positive reinforcement is effective. Marathon Kids incentivizes your running program by providing certificates, stickers, and other rewards throughout the season to encourage kids to keep moving and accomplish their goals.

Make Marathon Kids Your School's Running Partner