POMONA — They ran a mile for every year they’ve been alive ... and then ran some more.
Twelve-year-olds Dallin Bailey and Adrianna Goebel recently finished their first half marathon. The pair were competitors in Sunday’s 13.1-mile race in Tucson, Ariz. Pressed by their mothers to sign up, the pre-teen duo took to the roads of Arizona as the youngest of more than 1,200 competitors.
“It was interesting to see people’s faces when they saw us,” Adrianna, Overbrook, said about the reaction the young runners received from the other competitors.
Dallin and Adrianna wore cowboy boots, rather than running shoes, Friday as they talked about their experiences at the race, which took them nearly 1,200 miles from home.
“Why do I run long distance? Because it kind of runs in my [mom’s] side of the family,” Dallin, Pomona, said. “And the stresses from school get minimized whenever you’re running because you’re focused on what you’re doing instead of what went wrong today.”
Receiving constant support throughout the race from participants, their mothers and sideline watchers, Dallin finished with a time of just over 1 hour and 45 minutes. Adrianna finished in 2 hours and 18 minutes. Dallin won second in his age group, while Adrianna earned first. Both said they felt good about their times. Their mothers, who ran alongside their children, expressed delight in the pair’s performance.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Jessica Bailey, Dallin’s mother, said. “It’s just so neat that they wanted to do it. It wasn’t hard to keep them engaged, and they really enjoyed it.”
Adrianna’s mother agreed.
“I’m glad that they have this experience to take with them through life with everything,” Noel Young said. “It’s not always easy, and you have to work through stuff.”
Both West Franklin Middle School students, the 12-year-olds are two of three members of the school’s cross-country team. Both in their first year on the squad, they completed their cross-country seven-meet season in October and immediately began training for the half-marathon. The West Franklin faculty and staff also were supportive the runners, Young said. They asked questions about how their training and race went, she said.
It was different training for such a long distance, Adrianna said, because in cross-country the distance is one mile, but their times improved as time went on.
“At first, it was difficult, but it got easier as we kept going,” Adrianna said of the training, which included running at the Ottawa Community Recreation Center/Goppert Building, 705 W. 15th St. and in rural Franklin County. She noted that 140 laps on the Goppert Building’s indoor track equates to 11 miles.
With obesity reaching epidemic proportions in America today, their mothers said the young runners should serve as an inspiration to others who think they can’t accomplish their goals. Simply signing up and committing to a race can serve as the type of motivation people need, Young said.
“You’re never too big, just start,” Young said. “Just one step at a time. Just move.”
She added that it helps to commit to a race with a friend or group.
Adrianna’s first thought when she crossed the finish line was that she was glad for her active lifestyle, she said.
“I’m glad I did it,” she said. “I’m not sitting home and eating potato chips sitting on the couch.”
Track season starts in the spring, so the young runners will have to wait until after track to run their next long-distance race.
All four runners plan to compete in the Kansas City half marathon in October 2013.