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Taotlus kandidaadi esitamiseks

The race of the century showed that running is “in”

On the initiative of the non-profit association SEB Heategevusfond, this year's Tallinn Marathon and Sügisjooks – the sports event with the biggest number of participants in Estonia’s 100-year-history – included children from safe houses and substitute homes along with family parents. Small running enthusiasts put themselves to the test at Mesikäpa Children's Races, while older children ran 5 km and 10 km distances.

Sports is popular among children today. For many families of safe houses and substitute homes, running in Sügisjooks is an annual tradition that is eagerly awaited. On the eve of the race, the runners studied the course to get a better idea of the distance that they would be covering.

Early in the morning on race day the children were ready and set for the Run of the Century, as the sporting event became known because of the number of participants. The weather was great and the huge crowd created a feeling that they are part of something special. Before heading out onto the course, the children received their numbers and readied themselves for the start.

Motivating companions

For some children it was their first time participating in such a highly attended event. In a crowd, the best way to remain together as a group is to hold each other’s hands. For some children who consider themselves “older”, this is not an easy thing to do. In one family it took a lot of effort to convince one first-time runner in that holding hands was necessary. Finally, seeing how other children of his age held their teacher’s hand, he agreed and followed their lead.

The next hurdle was that everybody had to move at the same pace and quite quickly! If some child started to lose pace, others invented different ways to motivate their companion. A very effective incentive was the knowledge that everyone who finishes the race gets a medal. Also, it is always good to know how much distance is left – smart children calculated it at every kilometre post and then announced it to the others. Fortunately, even the longest distances come to an end and so the finish came closer. At the finish all of the children received a medal and were very proud of their achievement. Everybody was actively taking selfies and group photos. Some children have already got several medals from earlier races, and plan to keep collecting them.

Running by walking

In one family, which started the race at a calm pace, a group of faster girls disappeared from the teacher’s eyes already before the first kilometre sign. The remaining two girls decided together with the teacher to cover the distance by walking. This gave them time to enjoy the views and chat about life.

Children were reminiscing about their outings and earlier sports events that they had attended and which they were reminded of by places along the roadside. Walking through the Cultural Hub was an experience in itself. Before the finish, the brave walkers decided to take a few running steps, and so it was that all three crossed the finish line running.

At home they shared their impressions: who walked next to a celebrity, who met an old acquaintance. In such an event, every familiar person seems like a much bigger friend! One spectator encouraging runners was Gerd Kanter, and although at first children did not recognise him, it was still a great joy to be cheered by such a great athlete.

15 km instead of 10!

Annika attended the youth 5 km walk and the children’s run together with Pavel. Anton and Danila covered the 10 km distance. Even several days after the race, Pavel was very happy that he received such a fantastic medal.

For Snežana who was attending the Mesikäpa Children’s Race, this year’s race was the first one. She was very happy when she received the first medal of her life at the finish line. On the drive home the girl was showing it to everyone in the bus – it was clear that this time she had won because the medal does not lie! Even the little detail that she was the last to finish did not diminish the young athlete’s belief in victory.

Older children were less emotional. Ljusja and Ira participated in the 5 km run. Аrtjom, Olga and Deniss ran the 10 km distance together as a group, supporting each other. In the meantime, Nikita and Daša helped the teacher to maintain the pace. While others were running 10 km, Nikita covered at least 15 km – he was constantly running to and fro between the teacher, Artjom, Olga and Denise. Others were not disturbed by Nikita’s zigzagging and found it motivating.

Ira, Ljusja and Nikita notably improved their personal best times. All children got a lot of energy, good emotions and confidence in their resilience. Now they are eagerly awaiting the next sports event. Sügisjooks definitely gave children general motivation to engage in sports.

 

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