Should you stay or should you go? Here are some things to consider:
Consider the rules. Make sure it's allowed. Due to space or liability restrictions, some races simply don't allow non-registered participants on the course. If you really want to run alongside your budding athlete, you might need to register and pay for a race bib too. Check the website or ask the race director for the rules.
Consider the course. A simple out and back that starts and finishes in the same location, that is well organized and has plenty of volunteers, is more conducive to children running independently. Parents
Consider their age. Older children are happy to run alone and are often faster than their parents. They can also be trusted to wait at the finish line or meet in a designated spot. Younger children may be slower, need to stop on the course, and may get nervous in an unfamiliar environment.
Consider their running experience. Children who don't have much experience with running often have a hard time pacing themselves and can easily overexert themselves. A pounding heart and shortness of breath can be scary. If your child has not done many running events, consider tagging along beside them.
Consider siblings. If you have two or more children with different running abilities, you'll need to make the call on who to run with. Typically the slowest or youngest child will take priority, but make sure you have a plan with older children so they know if you expect them to run with you or where to meet you at the finish line.
Consider their need to be independent. Many parents (especially those of us who run) are so excited when our children embrace our sport that we just want to be involved too. But just as running has become a personal adventure for us, many children want to embrace it on their own. Recognize when you are not needed on the course anymore, but are more appreciated at the finish line taking photos.
ONE FINAL IMPORTANT NOTE: Please remember that every parent who joins the course is an added body and obstacle for the kids to maneuver around. Be courteous of all the participants by staying in the back with your child and being careful not to become an obstacle. Take photos only when it's safe.