23 March 2018, Friday
By Mary Bermingham
Teenagers across Ireland made a mad dash from school on Wednesday but with very good reason, as the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon Youth Challenge Fun 5k kicked off at Tramore Valley Park at 2pm under overcast skies. In spite of this event being cancelled last week due to torrential rain, there was an impressive turnout on the day, with Ireland’s young guys and girls gathering in their droves for a healthy change of scenery.
The Youth Challenge Fun 5k, which serves as a warm up for the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon, is a professionally-organised fun run and walk and was open to secondary school students and youth club members over the age of 13. It was established by the combined forces of the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon committee, along with the Cork Sports Partnership, Cork Education and Training Board (CETB), Health Service Executive (HSE) and Leisure World Cork, who teamed up and worked together in an effort to get Ireland’s youth fit, healthy and happy. As a free event, the Youth Challenge Fun 5k encouraged teenagers to get out of the classroom and participate in an event that is fun, challenging and promotes fitness, activity and positive mental health.
The day kicked off successfully with 300 young adults from 20 Cork schools and youth clubs. One of the aims of this event was to highlight the importance of encouraging young women to participate in sport. Such encouragement and support seem particularly pertinent within the current climate, after a study conducted last year by Lidl and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association concluded that while females that regularly partake in sporting activities display higher body confidence and better mental well-being, the number of women getting involved in sport continues to fall. Research conducted by the Women’s Sports Foundation in the US shows that by the time girls reach the age of 14 they are dropping out of sports at twice the rate that boys are dropping out. Furthermore, by age 17, over half of all girls will have given up sports. However, this was certainly not the case today, with many young women tightening their shoelaces and running free!
Remarking on the success of this year’s Youth Challenge Fun 5k, Eucharia Savage, Sports Development Officer Cork City Council said, “I’d like to extend huge congratulations to the schools and youth groups who took part in this year’s event. We were thrilled to see the level of participation reach a new high from last year. We were delighted to support the Youth Challenge Fun 5K once again this year and look forward to encouraging more teenagers and their parents to place health and fitness on top of the priority list.”
Claire Hurley, Cork Sports Partnership said: “The Youth Challenge Fun 5K encourages young people to take a break from social media and the digital world in order to set their sights on something both physically and mentally challenging and rewarding. It is important to teach young people health literacy and the reasons why long-term fitness is so important to their future health and in preventing them from developing avoidable medical conditions in later life.”
Shirley O’ Shea, Health Promotion Officer with the HSE stated “I think there have been huge changes in recent years to the mindset of the Irish public when it comes to issues of health and fitness, and the increased numbers of young people participating in sports, both within and outside of the school environment, is testament to this. To those of you who took part, well done! You are all winners!”
The Youth Challenge Fun 5k is just one of two events prompting Ireland’s youth to get out and pound the pavements. The Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon Youth Challenge, which takes place within the main Team Relay during race day – Sunday 3rd June, the same day as the Full, Half and Team Relay categories for adults – is designed to meet the criteria set out in the ‘Junior Cycle Curriculum for Wellbeing’. It is for 16 to 18-year-olds, but if circumstances require, an adult can run as part of the team. It is NOT a race, but rather an opportunity for young people over 16 years of age to be part of the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon Team Relay.
Both Challenges featured in the Youth Challenge category provide young people with an opportunity to participate in an event that is fun, motivational and that promotes physical fitness and positive mental health. It appeals to young people with varying levels of fitness and experience, so it is all-inclusive and more importantly, a whole lot of fun! For adolescents who are under pressure to juggle priorities in exam years, especially as they progress towards the Leaving Certificate, the Youth Challenge Fun 5K was an eye-opening experience, which showed those involved how to create a healthy work/life balance.
So, young people across the country, get ready to lace up your runners and run free again! Now in its 12th year, the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon Youth Challenge takes place along with the Full and Half Marathon and Team Relay on Sunday 3rd June in Cork City, where you will join over 8,000 participants crossing the finish line to cheers of thousands. To register or find out more, visit the website at www.corkcitymarathon.ie/youth-challenge. For helpful training tips or to share your Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon Youth Challenge journey, check out Facebook and Instagramcorkcitymarathon or Twitter @TheCorkMarathon #MoreThanAMarathon