A school lapathon or fun run is a relatively straightforward fundraiser which has the benefit of involving the whole school, and it’s healthy and active. You can get the professionals to organise your School Fun Run (click here) or DIY your own event (keep reading).
Almost every year my daughters’ school holds a fun run. They are always a great success – kids from pre-primary all the way to Year 6 are involved, and since it is always held on a Friday afternoon, there tends to be a great turnout by parents who come to watch. To make it a little more interesting, we tend to call it a Colour Run. Either we ask each year group to wear a different colour, or just ask the kids to wear the most riotous and colourful outfits they can. It turns the oval into a rainbow of colour.
Other suggestions for costumes include: superheros, book characters, fluoro, spots and stripes or rainbow.
Before the day
Create sponsorship forms for each student where family and friends can sponsor per lap, (or a flat amount). Allow students at least two weeks to get sponsors. Alternatively, schools can join Everyday Hero for free, and kids can make their own fundraising pages to get sponsors online. This reduces workload for the organising committee, less time counting money, and increases the spread for kids to find sponsors to include family and friends who live further away. Check out my schools guide to Everyday Hero here.
Map out an appropriate course on the school oval or nearby park. After inadvertently having a very short course the first year we ran it (which ended up costing parents lots of money because kids ran lots of laps*), make sure you consider how far your students can actually run in the time you are allocating. For example, we now have a 250m course for Pre-Primary to Year 2 and a 400m course for Year 3 to Year 6. Make sure you let parents know how the course is, so they can factor this in when deciding on a sponsorship amount,
Purchase and name one popstick for each student (see below) or something so you can mark their lap tally. Alternatives to this are purchasing rubber wristbands so you don’t need to worry about the kids dropping their popstick.
Organise an age-appropriate playlist of music and arrange to have speakers to play the music as the kids run.
If possible, find local businesses to sponsor the event by providing vouchers or goods as prizes. A local sports store sponsored our school’s Colour Run with a number of $50 vouchers which were made into prize hampers along with other donated goods. Promote the prize hampers in advance – prizes can be given for a range of things including – most laps run, most money raised (junior/senior), best outfit etc.
Volunteers and helpers
On the day there were three helpers (parents and teachers) for each year group, stationed at different points around the course. They were wearing the matching colour so students knew where to stop and have their lap recorded.
Prior to the day, the rest of the event was organised and managed by only one or two parents.
On the day
You can stage your event in different times for junior/senior students, or have them run different length courses. Year groups, each in their respective colour, started at their appropriate point around the course, and ran until the whistle blew.
As they ran, each child carried a popstick which had their name on it. Each time they ran a lap they stopped at their station and one of the volunteers would mark a line on the popstick with a heavy marker. At the end of the race, the kids lined up and swapped their popstick for an icypole (optional, but worth it).
What do you need:
Cones to mark the course
Textas to mark the popsticks each lap
Music and speakers (optional)
Tables for each year group so they can put their water bottles on them.
Eskies for the icypoles (optional)
After the event
The organisers took the named popsticks home together with the sponsor forms, and transferred the number of laps each child ran onto the sponsor form.
The forms were given back to students, who were then given two weeks to collect the money from donors. If you are fundraising via Everyday Hero, the money is donated as a fixed amount, and has already been taken before the event is run. You can still encourage kids to run as far as possible by allocating certain prizes to most laps run.
Prizes for the most laps run, most money raised etc were handed out at the next assembly. If you want to award prizes on the day, you can allocate best costume prizes or get a team of volunteers to quickly count tallies while the kids are eating their icypoles.
Make sure people know how long the course is, and how long kids will have to run.
If people don’t want the uncertainty of not knowing how much it might cost, a flat donation is acceptable.
Invite families to stay afterwards for a whole of school picnic or hold a fundraising BBQ as well.
Watch for certain clever kids who might try and stop at multiple stations to get their popstick marked for extra laps. This is why having a different colour for each year group is helpful, and volunteers know they can only mark off kids with certain coloured costumes.
Very clever kids sometimes get multiple volunteers within each checkpoint to mark off their popstick. The easiest solution for this is to allocate kids to a specific volunteer – who each have different coloured textas – to mark off each lap. At the end of the event, disregard any tallies done in a different colour.
Fun runs are fun, but you can always mix things up by incorporating different actions – use a siren or whistle to get kids to skip, run backwards or sideways, go on all fours, hold hands with another runner, or another fun action. It doesn’t have to be for a whole lap, just for a minute or two, to keep kids guessing and making it exciting. Alternatively turn part (or all) of the course into an obstacle course where kids have to jump into hoops or tyres, climb over something, crawl through a tunnel or jump up to ring a bell. Keep in mind this might create a bottle neck, so maybe get different year groups to run the ‘obstacle’ part of the course at different times.
For something even more colourful, consider turning the event into a paint colour run. Rather than marking off laps, kids have paint powder thrown at them as they pass through checkpoints, or just on the final lap. Check out my article here on how to DIY paint powders or where you can buy them online.
Related article: How to run a dog walk-a-thon
*However, it was very successful from a fundraising point of view