Westerfolds junior parkrun, launched in May 2018 as part of a trial of junior parkrun in Australia, is held at Westerfolds Park in Melbourne, the same location as the 5k event.
While the “big kids” version of parkrun on a Saturday takes in a full, five kilometre loop of the picturesque park, junior parkrun is two kilometres, held on a Sunday and is for participants aged 4 to 14 years old. It is also a lot of fun!
Adults are welcome to join their kids on the course, however with the presence of extra marshals so kids are never out of sight, and all volunteers requiring a valid working with children check, junior parkrunners are able to complete the course without supervision. Parents or guardians are asked to let the kids go through the finish funnel on their own, so it doesn’t get crowded and so the kids can enjoy the satisfaction of their achievement on their own – two kilometres can still be a long way for little legs!
Westerfolds junior parkrun starts with a mad dash across a grassy section of the park before the kids then make their way on to the main path. They follow the path for one kilometre, taking in as many high fives as they can from the marshals dotted along the course, before turning around at the final marshal and making their way back. The challenge is – the first kilometre is mostly downhill, which means on the way back, the kids are going up!
Fun is certainly the main theme of the morning and it’s hard to walk away without a smile on your face having spent the morning at Westerfolds junior parkrun.
Walking is encouraged at junior parkrun and just like on Saturdays, an adult volunteer tail waker is always on course to make sure all kids make to the finish funnel safely and that no one “finishes last”.
Prams are permitted at junior parkrun, however dogs are not.
Westerfolds Park is known for its abundant bird and wildlife and it’s not uncommon to see kangaroos and kookaburras around the start and finish line.
While many aspects of Saturday parkrun and junior parkrun are similar – including no barcode no time, only crossing the finish line once and being entirely run by volunteers – there are a few differences, too. After the run brief, the kids are given a warm-up by a dedicated warm-up leader volunteer, to get them in the mood to run or walk and just to have some fun.
After completing the 2k, most finishers make a dash to the nearby playground to burn off some more energy. More and more families are taking the opportunity to extend the morning, by packing a breakfast picnic and enjoying time in the park afterwards.
Westerfolds junior parkrun launched with a bang with 146 kids turning up to take part in event number. It has been well supported by a core group of dedicated volunteers and when the roster has needed an urgent spot filled, someone has always been willing to put their hand up.
Once parents are able to drag their kids away from the playground, the team at Westerfolds junior parkrun can often be found at the Zen Den cafe in nearby Eltham and everyone is welcome.
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