Destination running with kids. Sounds daunting, but it is possible and can be a lot of fun! I’m a working mum with a 2 and a 5 year old, and a husband who runs a small business and works 65-70 hours a week. I made it my goal this year to run more and get away more, so I’ve conveniently combined the two. At times, it has required some out of the box thinking, I’ve roped in friends, my sister in law and grandparents, but I’ve made it work and we’ve all had a ball.
So far this year we’ve been to the Blue mountains twice, Canberra, and Tassie. They’ve all been very different, but equally special in their own way.
The first trip to the Blue Mountains, was with a single friend of mine. I sent her a message saying ‘how would you like an all expenses paid trip to the Blue Mountains; only catch is you need to look after my kids for a couple of hours while I run’. It’s a pretty easy sell. If you’re driving, adding an extra person doesn’t add much in terms of cost, and opens so many opportunities, especially if you’re a single mum or have a partner who works difficult hours or even a partner who wants to run as well.
We drove up Friday night, I ran 18km in the morning and we spent the afternoon bushwalking, and the following day exploring Scenic World. The only catch here is that if you’re planning on walking with small children – you really need to leave something in the tank. My legs were NOT loving walking up the stairs with a toddle on my back, but they are stronger for it!
Tassie was the biggest adventure – While scrolling through Facebook one night while holding a restless one year old who was refusing to sleep anywhere but in my arms, I came across and advert for Tassie Trail Fest. My initial though process was the standard ‘WOW that looks amazing, another one for the bucket list’.
An hour later, still holding ‘Mr Refuse to Sleep’ the pictures of the trails were still in my mind. Out of curiosity I looked up flight prices… $129. I started becoming a little more intrigued – I wondered how much accommodation would be? Free camping near the start! This set my planning wheels in motion. I knew hubby would not be able to take any time off, but thankfully I have an awesome sister in law who also runs. The race schedule included a half on Saturday, and another one on Sunday so we could both run!
Admittedly getting there was a bit of struggle; 2 trains, a plane, and a hire car whilst juggling 2 kids and sufficient bags and equipment for 4 people camping was not the easiest part of the adventure, but we got there in one piece and it was well worth the effort. The trails were simply spectacular and the vibe was incredible. Being able to camp so close helped, as it made it easy to come and go without any hassles. An amazing adjacent child friendly café was a big bonus too!
Having kids meant we did miss on out on some of the festival fun – such as the film night and party; however even without these, this is probably my most favourite destination.
These first two trips were effectively training runs for the UTA22 which was my big goal I had been working towards for 6 months. I’d signed us all up – me for the 22, Hubby for the 1.2km with 951 stairs, and my big boy for the 1km race. My sister in law was also running the 22, so my in laws came up to watch and help out. So we booked a fancy 5 bedroom house and turned it into a luxurious holiday and spent 4 days in the mountains. It was a beautiful holiday and in many ways easier than the camping trips and the extra pairs of hands didn’t go astray. Perhaps not as adventurous, but the run more than made up for that, and I was very appreciative of a warm fire place after running the rain! One of the best parts about this was the kids race. Mr 4 was stoked that the race was on proper trails. All the previous races he’s done have been road only. Kids races often have an entry age of 4, but this one was open to all ages. Retrospectively I should have entered it with Mr 2 as well. I think my post run hobble pace would have matched his run nicely.
The Canberra trip was an easy one – it’s where my parents live. We were overdue for a visit, so I conveniently arranged this on a weekend which had a 20km trail race 20 minutes from their place. I may have pretended that I only noticed the race after I had arranged the holiday, but that’s just me trying to gloss over my running obsession. This trip also enabled me to give back to my dad, who was my running inspiration when I was little. He’d only ever run on road so I talked him into his first trail run. The two of us headed out early and my mum, hubby and kids followed later to meet us at the finish line. He had an amazing time and not only won his age group, but also set a course record for over 70! Running with your kids is a wonderful thing to do regardless of age!
Races are becoming more and more child friendly as they grow in popularity (well at least they are in Australia) I hope this is a world wide trend. Kids races are becoming more common place and some events even have kids club, so you can leave your (older) kids to be entertained and looked after while your run. If this is not the case if your area – maybe it’s time to drop some hints in the ears of race directors!
I know it can be intimidating, and perhaps a little more exhausting and logistically difficult, but when your 4 year old asks when his next camping running race is, or introduces himself at races as the best finish line high five boy, or when your 2 year old tells his day care teacher ‘my go runnings holiday’ with a big smile on his face you know it’s all worth it.