Little legs pump at top speed in a race to the finish line and the arms of a grinning parent. This is the uplifting visual of the Tiny Tots Track Meet taking place at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 4, at Thompson Middle School’s Reid Field.
Geared to kids 3 to 7, the event takes place along the straightaway of the school’s track loop. Participants are grouped based on age, with no more than four to five kids running at a time. Those in the 6 to 7 age range will run about a quarter mile, with progressively shorter courses for younger runners. While one parent or caregiver waits for their youngster at the end of the course, another is there at the starting line. St. Charles Park District helpers stand by should a child need an extra helper.
Athletic supervisor Megan Hatheway said organizers strive to make the event feel as close to an actual track meet as possible.
“For each heat, we give first, second and third place,” she said. “It’s a fun event to show kids how a track meet works, and it also gives kids a chance to get out of the house and moving.”
In addition to multiple foot races, the Tiny Tots Track Meet includes a throwing event. Organizers set up measuring tapes on the ground and participants line up to throw two tennis balls each. The further ball is the one counted. Those with the longest throws are awarded first through third place. Awards are given by age as well as gender.
The event has been popular with the St. Charles community for some time. This year will be the 31st annual event, and Hatheway estimates about 75 to 100 kids participate each year.
“We definitely get some repeat families,” she said, adding that when kids age out of the track meet, staff is more than happy to point them in the direction of other speed and agility programs offered through the park district.
When it comes to younger kids, Hatheway said she has noticed many parents view the event as a litmus test.
“Parents might use it as a gateway to see how kids will do in some of the other classes and among other kids,” she said.
Regardless of age or ability, every participant receives a completion medal, not to mention a sense of accomplishment.
Along with the satisfaction of a race run well is the fatigue that follows.
“After the meet, I always hear parents saying, ‘OK, time to get home for a nap,’” Hatheway said, laughing.
Registration, which is open, is $12 a resident and $18 for a nonresident. To learn more and sign up, visit www.stcparks.org.