Health & Wellness

Chatham Youth Running Program Proposed

March 23, 2014 at 10:55 PM

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of interested parents has approached the Chatham Recreation Department about adding Youth Cross Country and Track and Field program for Chatham Borough and Chatham Township residents.

The addition of youth running programs offers a tremendous opportunity that does not exist in the current recreation programs or local club teams.  These programs would be designed for all runners from beginner runners to experienced runners.

The programs would offer the ideal balance of individual development and camaraderie from being part of a team.  One of the fundamental principles of the programs is based on working to improve each runner’s personal time (personal record or PR).  No matter how fast or slow a runner may be their goal is to work to improve upon their PR each week.

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This approach will result in beginner runners improving their times during the season and hopefully some more experienced runners advancing to post season races/tournaments.  Regardless, each new PR is celebrated and anyone not obtaining a new PR is encouraged to work towards a new PR for the next week.

The program would be available to children in from ages 7 through 14 (children would have to be age 7-14 on December 31, 2014).

Hopefully, the running programs would participate in the Lakeland Junior Cross Country and Track & Field Leagues (Lakeland) which is comprised of several other Morris County teams. The initial plan would be to establish a cross country program that would participate in the Lakeland, starting in the fall of 2014 and then establish a track & field program that would participate in the Lakeland starting in the spring of 2015.  

The cross country practices would begin in late August and would be held locally 2 to 3 times a week depending on the age group. Based on the Lakeland’s cross country rules from last year, the meets would be held on Sundays, starting around the beginning of September and would run for about 8 consecutive Sundays with the final meet around the end of October.

The location of the meets are expected to be at Greystone Park in Morris Plains. The approximate age groups (based on their age as of December 31, 2014 for the fall 2014 season), race distances and the approximate race start time for the Sunday meets are noted below.

Age Group                                    Race Distance                                            Race Start Time (Approx).

Sub-Bantam 7-8 years                    1700 meters (1.06 miles)                               12:25pm

Born (2006-2007)


Bantam 9-10 years                          2000 meters (1.24 miles)                               12:10pm

Born (2004-2005)


Midget 11-12 years                         3000 meters (1.86 miles)                                11:50am

Born (2002-2003)


Youth 13-14 years                           4000 meters (2.49 miles)                                11:30am

Born (2000-2001)


It is fully understood that the children that would participate in this program may participate in other recreation or club programs.  That is absolutely not a problem.

 This may be the primary sport for some children during the season and a secondary sport for others.  Participants are not required to make every practice or race.  One of the goals of the program would be to encourage the children to work out a certain number of times a week.   It doesn’t matter if the workouts are with this program or with another program/team.  The view is that a workout is a workout. As a result, this program would be an excellent supplement program for children who are involved with other programs.    

In addition, since the program would not officially start until the fall of 2014 the Chatham Recreation Department is considering starting a spring running program.  The program would meet 2 or 3 times a week to run at one of the practice locations and participate in different races.  The spring running program season would end with runners participating in the Chatham Fishawack races in June.

Finally, aside from the obvious benefits of a child participating in a youth running program, these programs would prepare them to run at the high school level.  Organized youth running programs would introduce our children to a true life sport that can be enjoyed throughout adulthood.

If you have children interested in participating and/or if someone in your family is interested in volunteering - the Chatham Recreation Department needs to ensure there is adequate interest and volunteers to support the programs.

Please complete the INTEREST form on Community Pass (Chatham Recreation’s online registration system – go to to Community Pass – Register Spring). Keep in mind this is just an INTEREST form and not a formal registration or commitment. These interest forms are due by APRIL 5th.

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