The world’s biggest bike race… for children
Each year at the end of May, Estonia’s biggest annual road cycling event, the Tartu Rattaralli, is held over two days in the country’s second city, Tartu.
While the Sunday is dedicated to races for adults, the day before it is the children who take centre stage. This year 2556 children participated in events ranging from 400m to 5.1km in length, making it – according to the organisers - the largest bike race for children in the world.
The first Tartu Rattaralli took place in May 1982, starting from the central square of the town. That year, there were 362 riders at the finish. Children’s events started just a year after, with racing in two categories: 3-6 years and 7 years and up. The children’s races are held at Tähtvere Sports Park and are part of a series of 6 events in the city including mountain biking, inline-skating, running and cross-country skiing, all of which have specific children’s events.
With many developments planned in the area, next year’s courses for children could see some changes, explained Marti Viilu, member of the Board of Tähtvere Sports Park. Already this year, the 5.1km course was modified to include a new section of forest road.
“Tartu Maraton children’s races have traditionally taken place in our sports park and it will definitely remain like that in the future,” added Viilu. “We are very glad to see so many people here and hopefully they will find their way to do sports in our complex more often.”
Giving children the chance to ride is a great way of increasing participation in the sport and ensuring continued support in the future. It also enables children to practice cycling skills which can then be used when they are older to get to school, for leisure, and to be more independent.
Next year’s Tartu Rattaralli will take place on May 27 and 28.