With spring around the corner, there is no better way to abandon the sedentary life that comes with the winter months than with outdoor physical activity. 

Studies have shown that individuals who participate in frequent physical activity can experience improved mental and physical health.

Therefore, involving children in physical activity from an early age can help them nurture healthy habits they can carry with them into adulthood.

Now in its 45th year, Portland’s Shamrock Run offers a wonderful opportunity for physical activity for people of all ages, including young children, in a festive, family-friendly atmosphere. 

As Portland’s longest-running tradition, the courses offer striking views of Portland’s skyline, the Willamette River waterfront, and about seven distinct bridges.

Things to Know

Portland’s 2023 Shamrock Run takes place on Sunday, March 12th, with the earliest run starting at 8:00 am. All races begin and conclude at the picturesque Tom McCall Waterfront Park. 

Post-race celebrations include a “Finish Line Festival” featuring a beer garden with a complimentary beer for runners 21 years of age and over and live music for a fun St. Patrick’s Day celebration for all ages.

The runs include a half-marathon, a 5k, 8k, and 15k run, a Stride Walk, and a Leprechaun Lap. 

Children 10 years of age and younger can participate in the OHSU Doernbecher’s Leprechaun Lap 1k. It starts at 9:40 am and is roughly 0.6 miles. 

If running or jogging is not your cup of tea, the Shamrock Stride Walk is about 4 miles long and only for walkers. It begins at 10:30 am, has no minimum age requirement, and parents can push strollers along.

Although there are no age requirements for the 5k, 8k, and 15k runs, you must run or jog, and there are course time limits. Keep that in mind if you are considering signing up your child for one of these runs.

The half-marathon requires that participants be no younger than 13 years of age. Walking is not permitted, and the course must be completed by 3:10 pm.

Benefits of Participating in a Run for Kids

Creates a Bonding Experience

Participating in a run like the Shamrock Run can be a bonding experience for the entire family.

Preparing for an organized run or marathon can be an easy, convenient, and inexpensive activity to undertake as a family since training can be done anywhere.

Additionally, because there are no age restrictions with running, the entire family can participate as you can choose your own pace. Even babies in strollers can enjoy this fun outdoor experience.

Furthermore, the time spent as a family leading up to and during the run can create connections and build memories that can be cherished for years to come.

Teaches Perseverance

No one is perfect when starting a new interest. When it comes to physical activity, it takes time to build stamina and endurance.

Since improvement does not happen overnight, children inevitably learn the importance of persistence, practice, and discipline to get where they want to be.

Working towards a goal gives children something to strive for, building their grit.

Improves Physical and Mental Health

Studies have shown that physical activity can reduce anxiety, depression, and the risk of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Spending time outdoors, whether running, jogging, or walking, can help children explore their environment, making a connection with the natural world. 

And according to Harvard Health Publishing, regular exercise can improve verbal memory, thinking, and mood, thus improving concentration and focus. 

Boosts Children’s Self-Esteem and Confidence

As children prepare to participate in a run, such as the Shamrock Run, they develop confidence and self-esteem as they see their performance improve with practice.

Additionally, they develop a sense of understanding and appreciation for their bodies as they strive to improve over time while making healthy choices along the way.

Creating a running goal and achieving it will further build their sense of pride and boost their confidence, which can be carried over into other areas of their lives, such as in school and their social life.

Final Thoughts

Regular physical activity has been shown to have various benefits on mental and physical health.

Therefore, involving children in physical activity from a young age can build healthy habits that can benefit them throughout their lives. 

Preparing for and participating in the Shamrock Run can have a long-lasting impact on children’s lives while creating fun memories along the way.