Setting age limitations for various distances for juniors in road racing is difficult enough, but Fiji, and other tropical race destinations, pose the extra complicating factor of frequently hot, humid runs. Children produce less sweat and are less efficient at cooling, and take longer to acclimatise to hot conditions. Thus, time of day, time of year and expected temperature (and humidity) can make an impact on who and what age juniors should be running.
Other factors in determining what age juniors should be running various distances include physical and emotional maturity, health, and training undertaken.
Children are more prone to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, joint cartilage injuries (eg. osteochondritis dissecans), and apophyseal injuries like Osgood-Schlatters and Severs disease.
There is agreement that a progression of maximum distance in juniors is recommended.
Below is a table with recommendations for distances from 5km through to marathon for 5 different countries from their National Athletics bodies. Note, some of these are policy, some are guidelines/recommendations, while some are just verbal suggestions as no written policy is in place. Also note the overall temperature and climate of each region, most are temperate/cold.
Distance UK Canada USA Australia Ireland
5km 12 10 6 – 16
10km 15 14 13 12 18
21km 17 16 15 16 18
Marathon 18 18 18 16 18
As you can see, there is a great deal of variation. Thus, it is almost impossible to develop a “one size fits all” policy for global running.
Therefore, the below policy endorsed by SUVA MARATHON TRUST are to be observed in all Club events.
Suva Marathon Club Age Restrictions
- 5km Minimum age 10 years
- 10km Minimum age 14 years
- 21km Minimum age 16 years
- 42km Minimum age 18 years
Advice which Race Directors and Event Organisers should give to parents of juniors who are involved in running could include, but not be limited to:
- Emphasis should be on fun and participation rather than speed/record breaking (clubs should consider not having course records for juniors)
- They follow an acceptable, supervised training program
- They have no injury or pain during training
- They maintain normal growth in both height and weight
- Their health, nutritional intake and sleep patterns remain good
- They maintain good social interaction and academic performance during training
- Female juniors maintain normal menstrual function during training
Particular events such as trail running require additional consideration due to remoteness, topography, fauna and flora. To mitigate risk, further conditions could be placed on younger runners, such as requiring responsible adults to accompany junior runners.
Reference: ATHLETICS NORTH QUEENSLAND – Age Limitation Guidelines for Road Running – January 2017 (supplied by Yvonne Mullins, Executive Director, OAA)
- Approved : 8 November 2019
- Reapproved by SMC Trustees Board, 19 February 2020