Jingle Bell Jog, December 10, 2011, Prospect Park Brooklyn NY From series
Jingle Bell Jog, December 10, 2011, Prospect Park Brooklyn NY From series "Run", personal series featuring portraits of runners (Robert Wright)

Races That Keep Kids—and Parents—Occupied

Finally, more events are offering child-care options for active parents.

Jingle Bell Jog, December 10, 2011, Prospect Park Brooklyn NY From series

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My wife, Nicole, is a devout CrossFitter. I’m an avid runner and cyclist. Although neither of us had competed in an obstacle-course race before, we were both curious. Then, last summer, while visiting Durango, Colorado, we learned that the Durango Mountain Resort’s Muck and Mire race was the following morning. It sounded like a perfect first stab—not too long (5K and 10K options), with PG-13 obstacles like hay bales and cargo nets, and a beer garden at the finish. The catch: we had our kids, Lily, 5, and Beck, 2, with us.

That’s when Nicole read the fine print and came across the magic words: “Child care provided, 8 a.m. to noon, $20 per child. Reservations required.”

The next morning at 9 a.m., we were at the start line. Some of the obstacles were gimmicky (rolling under stacked logs; wading across a shallow, stinky pond), and others were more aggressive (the slip-and-slide shot me off the plastic sheet so fast I got grass burns on my legs), but after the race we both agreed that the babysitting fee was the best $40 we’d ever spent. The other mud-caked, squishy-shoed parents at the finish seemed equally pleased.

While aid stations are still far more prevalent than babysitters at most races, that’s starting to change. From local 10Ks to more serious endurance races, event organizers are realizing that if they make their events attractive to families, more people will sign up. Some series, like Rock ‘n’ Roll, have kids’ races to encourage participation. Instead of ditching your family for a weekend of racing, you’ll bring them with you—and they’ll have fun, too.

The popular Rev3 triathlon races offer supervised areas for kids, and all 130-plus Spartan Races have kid-friendly obstacles in spectator areas. “The smarter ones are already doing it,” says Mike Reilly, VP of endurance events at Active.com, the world’s largest site for participatory sports, “and more established events are trying to figure out how to do it, too.”

With so many races out there, it’s a sound business move. Plus, kids are future customers. After the Muck and Mire, I asked Lily what she thought of obstacle racing. Her reply: “Awesome!”


For more kid-friendly events, check out our list of Outside-Endorsed Races.

From Outside Magazine, Mar 2014 Lead Photo: Robert Wright

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