Too young to run?

Anyone see this story in the New York Times about the two young runners, Kaytlynn, 12, and Heather, 10, Welsch, who run tough adult trail races?

It’s a long article but I recommend. It’s fascinating and causes one to wonder: Do these girls really want to run or are they running mainly to please/fulfill their father’s dreams and ambitions?

Photo credit: New York Times

Look how small these girls are! They barely reach the others’ elbows. And Heather, the youngest, pins stuffed animals on her shirt before each race. She also cries during most races.

Granted, they are talented runners. The oldest clocked a 1:28 half marathon. Yet the father’s attitude is unsettling.

The article followed the pair through a rugged and steep trail race in Utah. Kaytlynn was expected to place in the top 5 female finishers (adult finishers, I must stress). She stubbed her toe the day before and it was black and blue on race day. She ran anyways and place 30th out of 75 women, darned good for a 12-year-old.

Her father didn’t seem to think so. Here is what he was quoted as saying in the car on the ride home.

“You quit on us today,” he said.

“No, I didn’t,” she responded.
“Yes, you did. A lot of people run with a stubbed toe, even a broken toe. They put it aside and do their best. Did you do your best?”
“Your time shows you certainly didn’t.”
Deep down she believed he was right, and she kept her eyes on her phone.

Heather, 10, after a race. Photo credit: New York Times.

Jesus, she’s 12. She should be out playing with friends, not racing every weekend and especially not racing with a stubbed toe. I’ve been there, done that and it hurts.

At the same time, I admire these girls. It sounded as if they really love to run, really love to feel their bodies move, and really love to compete.

They also compete in tris and both have bikes worth about $5,500, each. At ages 12 and 10. If that doesn’t set up the expectation to succeed at all costs not sure what does.

I think the article’s title sums it up best, “Too Fast, Too Soon?”

Let me know what you think, if you have a chance. It’s long yet fascinating read.

3 thoughts on “Too young to run?

  1. Karen

    I'm okay with them going long distances, but I am a little worried about the pressure the dad seems to put on them. What happens when they get hurt or burned out? Racing every weekend will do that eventually….then what? No friends, no “purpose in life” (as Katelynn describes her love of running), that will be when it all comes crashing down for the whole family.


  2. Ah Ah Alaska

    I know! The dad does seem to be putting on the pressure. Yet the girls truly seem to love running. Still, their race schedule seems a bit extreme. And also their expensive bikes (I don't think my car is even worth the price of one of their bikes, hee, hee.)


  3. ajh

    Crazy. Joan Benoit Samuelson has strong opinions about girls racing too soon. She was in a race I was in once where there was a young girl who did well and she did not approve of her being in the race. The father was similar to the one in this article. I always wondered what happened to this girl.


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