WEST Dublin sixth class pupils have been lacing up their running shoes as they gear up to join the thousands of athletes taking part in the Dublin Marathon next month.
More than 600 children across Fingal have signed up to the KiDSMARATHON program run by the County Council.
Five primary schools in Dublin West have jumped on board with the eight-week program. The participants will train four times a week in school, racking up 25 miles of running in the process. They will then have the chance to complete their final mile at the Dublin Marathon on October 26. The school-goers will cross the finish line with the adult runners and will receive a medal and a goodie bag for taking part.
Niall McGuirk, Senior Sports Development Officer with Fingal, said that he hopes the memory of taking part in the race "will stay with them forever".
"We are delighted to be able to target children in sixth class because they are heading into their teens, a time when all the figures show the greatest drop out rate in sport," he told the Herald.
A workbook has also been designed with Dublin Marathon to teach children in the classroom about the benefits of regular exercise.
It deals with eight topics such as heart health and helps them log their training achievements, as they build up from 600m to a mile.
The KiDSMARATHON program was designed by New Zealand Olympian Rod Dixon.
Dixon, who has won the New York Marathon, has been running the program in New Zealand and in the US.
Tens of thousands of children worldwide complete the program annually and Mr McGuirk said that he hopes schools around Ireland will take it up.
"I have had nothing but positive feedback from teachers, parents and the kids.
"It's not costly to implement and all you need is good, enthusiastic teachers - which we have an abundance of," he said.