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Running for gold

To think about life in terms of running a race.

by Penny Hollander

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about life in terms of running a race.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need examples of running equipment such as a pair of trainers, PE kit, water bottle.
  • Pictures of famous long-distance runners such as Paula Radcliffe.
  • Advertising material for the London Marathon (23 April in 2006).
  • Large cards (for writing on).
  • Optional: medal ribbons, starting ‘gun’ and reel of tape for finishing line.
  • You could write the children’s suggestions on cards to be held up, or use an OHP or whiteboard.
  • Bible reference: Hebrews 12.1: ‘Let us keep on running the race marked out for us.’


  1. Ask the children to identify when they would use trainers, and their PE kit. Show them pictures of famous long-distance runners and London Marathon promotional material. Identify the connections.

    Ask the children for different reasons why people run. Write the reasons they give on large cards and ask volunteers to come out and hold them up. Answers may include:

    To keep fit and strong.
    To see how far I can get in the shortest amount of time possible.
    It’s fun.
    To raise money for charity.
    To help me when I’m playing other sports e.g. football.
    To win medals – preferably gold ones!
  2. Explain that runners like Paula Radcliffe do it for many of the reasons mentioned. They regularly compete in various events including marathons. Each year a number of marathons are organized all over the country and the world, and thousands of ordinary people, not just top athletes, take part. Most famous in this country is the London Marathon.

    Some want to run the London Marathon as fast as they can, some just want just to complete the course, some dress up and some raise thousands of pounds for their chosen charity. The reason doesn’t really matter – people just want to achieve their goal and reach that finishing line in one piece!

    Optional: You could ask various children to act out running for the finishing line – two other children can hold the finishing tape and the rest of the children cheer as each ‘competitor’ crosses the tape.
  3. Ask the children what else runners need apart from their running gear for the race. Responses could include a water bottle for when they get thirsty, a route to follow, people to cheer them on, determination to complete the course.
  4. In the Bible one of the New Testament writers compares life to being like running a race. The Letter to the Hebrews was written to Christians to encourage them to keep going in life and in their faith. It says that life is like running a race that is marked out for them by God - see Hebrews 12.1.

    The starting line is the place where we begin and the finishing tape is the end of our lives – gold medal time! The race may include difficult times – like steep hills, rough roads for runners – but we can help one another by cheering each other on, encouraging others to keep going, being happy when things are going well. We need a route to follow, too, and for Christians this is the Bible and its teachings.

Time for reflection


Let’s think about what it’s like to run.

Some of us enjoy it more than others, but it is an important way to keep us healthy and strong.

It doesn’t matter how fast or slow we are – but can we keep going to the end and will we win that gold medal?

We can help one another too, giving support when we are tempted to give up.

Think about how our lives are a bit like running a race – how difficult do we find things at times?

Like in a race, we need to pace ourselves and keep going. How can we support each other?


Dear God,

Thank you that you know and understand us.

You are always there to help us, in the easy and the difficult times.

You want us to keep going in that journey of life.

Help us to support each other too.



‘I am planting my feet’ (Come and Praise, 103)

Publication date: April 2006   (Vol.8 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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