Record numbers run relays in World Marathon Challenge

Thousands of youngsters from over 60 countries have teamed up to take on the Save the Children World Marathon Challenge

Gemili Save the Children World Marathon Challenge

An incredible 50,000 children from over 60 countries have worked in teams to attack the world marathon record this month as part of the Save the Children World Marathon Challenge.

The brainchild of Sportshall founder George Bunner, this relay event – delivered in partnership with Eveque and supported by the Amateur Athletic Association and England Athletics – sees teams of youngsters and an increasing number of adults from across the world compete in a virtual competition to beat the world marathon records of 2:03:23 and 2:15:25 held by Wilson Kipsang and Paula Radcliffe respectively in 200m stages.

Up from 20,000 children from 45 countries in 2012, the participation levels for this year’s relay have boomed, with teams from as far afield as Kenya, Canada and New Zealand taking part to send a message to world leaders that action needs to be taken to stop the needless deaths of children.

With an impressive 1:51:39, Thomas Tallis School in London posted the quickest time in the 13 years and under category, with 15,000 runners at more than 200 venues getting involved in the UK alone.

Sprinter Adam Gemili is one of the elite athletes to have shown his support for the event and went along to the London flagship World Marathon Challenge on the final day of the competition as a special guest.

He said: “I’m thrilled to lend my support to the Save the Children World Marathon Challenge.

“This event is a great way to build team spirit, and give kids an understanding of the issues facing children far less fortunate than themselves – many who face a struggle even to survive.

“I hope that the challenge inspires many of them to take up athletics and join a club.”

Over in Birmingham and double Paralympic and world champion Hannah Cockroft was on hand to present medals to children.

“What an incredible achievement,” she commented. “Not only is each team running a marathon, but each competitor is part of a global team from over 60 countries that are all racing to help save the lives of poor children all around the world.

“Here in Birmingham, we have been doing our relay in a professional stadium,” she added, “but elsewhere in countries like Kenya, Iraq and India, children are running on dirt tracks and some are running barefoot. Yet, we all share a common goal to help end deaths of under five year olds to preventable causes.”

Having started off as an event that focused on young runners between the ages of 11 to 13, many adult teams also got involved this year, with Cannock & Stafford Athletics Club posting the fastest time in the ‘open age’ category with 1:42:22.

“This year we’ve seen a number of adult teams taking part, both recreational running groups and some very competitive clubs,” commented former England Athletics chief executive Mike Summers, project manager for the World Marathon Challenge.

“The excitement it has generated among adult runners has certainly matched that of the kids – and that’s where we see huge potential for growth in the future.”

Top 10 results (13 years and under, mixed gender)
Thomas Tallis, London, Britain 1:51:39
Southend Girls and Boys, London, Britain 1:53:53
Tigers, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 1:55:03
Helsby High School, Manchester, Britain 1:55:43
Virgen de Europa, Madrid, Spain 1:56:00
Ark Academy, London, Britain 1:57:17
Offaly, Tullamore, Ireland 1:57:32
Sabene, Bamako, Mali 1:57:53
PSC CC Team Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand 1:59:43
Vidistadaskoli, Reykjavik, Iceland 2:01:22

Top 10 results (any age, any gender)
Cannock & Stafford AC, Stafford, England 1:42:22
Tartu Kalev, Tartu, Estonia 1:42:25
Põlva Ühisgümnaasium, Põlva, Estonia Põlva
Campion Open AC, Northampton, England 1:50:37
Thomas Tallis, London, Britain 1:51:39
All Stars, Welshpool, Wales 1:52:45
DGS Over 13, Dartford, Britain 1:52:59
Mustamäe Reaalgümnaasium, Tallinn, Estonia 1:53:06
Southend Girls and Boys, London, Britain 1:53:53
Afghan Boys, Sheberghan, Afghanistan 1:54:49

» For further info on the World Marathon Challenge see savethechildren.org.uk/wmc, while full results can be found here and a map showing the countries involved can be found here

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