Ready, Set, Go! The Siberian ‘Diaper Marathon’ Kicks Off

Organizers will soon accept entries for the 2012 game, officially known as the “Crawlers competition.”


Come on baby! Tracker competition in Novosibrisk, Siberia. Photo: Alina Sinikova,

Babies nine months and younger compete to cover a distance of seven meters. You have two minutes to complete the diaper course.

“We must make all participants fair, so we check birth certificates to make sure none of the competitors are a day older than the allowed age,” one organizer said.

And you can see in the faces of the parents – more than the babies – how seriously they take it.

Perhaps it will be the key to future Russian Olympic successes.

But for now all the runners – sorry, tracker! – receives a prize for participating.

The advantages are that parents are not allowed to play with the child athletes, but they can cajole them, encourage them, smile, chat, wave toys, make faces, anything to get their little ones over the line as quickly as possible.


We prohibit parents from touching athletes. Photo: Alina Sinikova,

It doesn’t always work, needless to say, and sometimes the trackers, each of whom has an official bib (at least they should be used to that!) go to other lanes, or even return to the star line, but in In the end a good spirit is maintained. With a little luck.

The event is part of the annual Siberian Running Festival, also known as the Novosibirsk Marathon, and aims to promote a healthy lifestyle. Everyone can participate, from professional athletes to people over 70 years old. And, of course, the trackers.

The diaper marathon is organized in a warm tent, protected from rain, strong wind or other inclement weather in September.

The crawling path is done on soft mats on the floor.

The 2011 champion, Ьeаtіпɡ, was Nikita Zhulin. He was not available for an interview on the podium about his gold medal, but his mother Tatiana Zhulina said: “We were in a kind of routine: he would wake up, eat, then play and walk, go to sleep… and everywhere. And suddenly we found out about this marathon, in which even the little ones can participate! Of course we were in!

This is how the morning of the marathon arrived. Nikita, who was nine months old at the time, got bib number 5 and was one of 60 other trackers, so the competition was going to be very difficult.


Nikita Zhulin begins her triumphant crawl, with a little help from mother Tatiana. Photo: Alina Sinikova,

Recalling the pre-marathon experience, he explained: “Babies chattering, parents nervously preparing, photographers milling around with their cameras – it’s a feeling of real competition.”

‘And we go. Parents have been using all kinds of attractions to help their little ones crawl faster: toys, cameras, laptops, phones.

‘We had only caught a pear and a babushka (grandmother)! But it worked: Nikita was the fastest of all and managed to cover the distance in about 15 seconds. Hurrah!

‘It was a fantastic day and thanks to the marathon organizers for thinking of this idea. It’s so much fun that you can go to a public event with the baby when he’s still very young.’


Do I have to do it, mom? Family and friends cheer one of the trackers on and encourage her to keep going.

Photo: Alina Sinikova,

Another viewer named Sergei was captivated by what he saw.

“I went to watch the crawling game with my friend because his son was participating,” he said.

‘I wasn’t really expecting anything interesting, but then I was completely captivated.

‘It was impossible not to smile seeing so many babies crawling at the same time. Next time I hope my little one can participate.’

Marathon director Yevgeniy Gusev, 30, said: “Of course, we also welcome young participants from foreign countries.

‘We will make sure the conditions are perfect, even if the weather is not so stable. Although we normally have a dry and warm start to September.

‘We’re going to set up a big tent.

“If the weather turns cold, we will make sure it is warm. We will provide you with comfortable crawling mats and you will receive the unconditional support of Siberian families. Please note that we will ask for documentation verifying your baby’s age. For this contest, we only accept participants who are no older than nine months.”

‘We wanted to organize a real running festival, so that people of any age, even those not old enough to walk, can join us.

‘This is how the idea of babies crawling a certain distance came about. We want them to like running from a very young age.

“And yes, to prepare our next Olympic champions we have to start when they are still in diapers.”

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