Track season is kicking off here is South Carolina and with a new year, come new age groups for many kids. My kids run USATF meets. Running has different age rules compared to come other sports like swimming. In swimming, kids age up on their birthday so if the day they turn 11 they swim 11-12. For running, you are considered the age you will be on December 31st of the current calendar year.
For most kids, the age is pretty close to their actual age. My daughter turns 14 in June so she will be 13-14 all year for both track and cross-country. Her teammate, who is currently 16, turns 17 on November 30th so he will be 17-18 for track and field season even though he will actually be 16 for months after the season ends.
You can find the breakdown of age groups and birth years on this website: USATF Youth Age Divisions. Many teams will take 5 and 6 year-olds, but while they can compete in local meets, kids have to be 7 years-old to complete at the national level. Also, kids like my son, who will be 17-18 for three years can compete as long as they do no turn 19 years old before the national meet in July.
Some kids love to have January birthdays so they are competing in their actual age all year long. But if you have a child with a fall birthday and they are stuck in an upper age group, remind them that older kids will push them to run faster. Also, as you progress to older age groups there are more events available for you to compete in so you have more options for races and more time to develop your skills in those events.
I know two kids who have birthdays on December 31st. While they both hated their birthdays for track and cross-country running, they both did great running against the older kids which gave them a lot of confidence as they moved through the age groups. So, tell your kids to embrace their new age group this season and have a great run.