During the pandemic, local running clubs for kids and youth have helped keep people active.
Photo courtesy Rachel Maika
Dixon elementary teacher Rachel Maika and her daughter Rosie.
Photo courtesy Rachel Maika
Young Richmond runners staying active
By Hannah Scott
Published 1:59 PST, Fri December 2, 2022
Last Updated: 2:10 PST, Tue December 6, 2022
With the 2023 Steveston Icebreaker and New Balance Kidsrun scheduled for January—and nearly sold out—Richmondites show their eagerness to get moving despite the chilly weather.
For teacher Rachel Maika and her Dixon elementary running club, the pandemic didn’t stall their progress. In fact, being able to get active outside together, in the absence of other activities, has helped the school club thrive.
“I started a number of running clubs during COVID just because it was something we could do outside that was fairly safe; I felt that kids needed something because everything else had been shut down. That’s when I first started up a primary running club at Dixon,” says Maika. “I’ve always done track and field and cross country with older students, but I saw a need for younger students to be active and involved with friends.”
Initially the school group had 70 to 80 kids plus some parents. Maika also organized running events for the local Dixon community.
“Now that it’s been a few years, the programs have grown and more kids are joining,” she says. “Some of them have graduated elementary school, so now we have a high school group where we meet and do the Icebreaker, the Sun Run, the West Vancouver run, those sorts of things.”
Maika’s high school group, which currently has about 40 participants, includes students from many different Richmond high schools and allows students to meet other runners.
The primary run club meets several early mornings each week, and the intermediate group two or three times weekly. The groups also meet on Saturdays to run together, with parent volunteers helping out as well as older students looking out for younger students.
“More and more (elementary schools) are starting to buy into the running clubs just because it’s such a healthy thing to do and easy for students to organize,” says Maika. “The district cross-country meet was bigger than ever this year. (There were) 800 runners in the district for elementary schools.”
A runner for 33 years, as well as coaching since she was 18, Maika says running has always been important for her family.
“(It’s) something that I do for myself, not only for the physical but also for mental health and finding time for myself; that was really important during COVID,” she says.
Running in the morning helps some kids calm down before heading into class. Maika also incorporates running games and obstacle courses to create a fun atmosphere. She says running helps encourage kids to get away from screens, as well as fostering personal achievements.
“It’s something they’re super proud of—they wear their race T-shirts the next day to school, bring their medals, and we make a big deal of it at assemblies,” says Maika.
This year’s eight-kilometre Icebreaker and one-kilometre Kidsrun take place on Jan. 15 in Steveston. The Icebreaker boasts a new BC Athletics-certified course that begins at Imperial Landing and continues along the dike out to No. 3 Road and back.
The race is back to its pre-COVID rules, including a post-run event and a kids zone with face painting, crafts, and more. The event is capped at 700 participants for the Icebreaker and 200 for the Kidsrun, and Maika says both are likely to sell out, indicating that people are eager to return to events and work on their health and fitness.
“I challenge other schools to come out and make teams and support the event—just sign up quickly because it’s going to fill up for sure,” she says.
For more information on the Icebreaker and Kidsrun, visit icebreaker8k.ca/
Up to 200 kids aged 10 and younger can participate in this year's Kidsrun, which organizers say is likely to sell out.
The 2023 Steveston Icebreaker and New Balance Kidsrun are scheduled for Jan. 15.
Photos courtesy Jared Hulme