….and My Story Runs On….
Last weekend I had the amazing opportunity to assist Danny Dreyer, the creator of ChiRunning, at his workshop in Houston. As much as I want to rave about that experience, I need to talk about the fastest, youngest and cutest endurance runners in the county: Kaytlynn and Heather Welsch.
I was registering participants as they were arriving at the workshop and these 2 little girls appear before me with their Dad. A guy behind them immediately said, “Oh, I know these girls, they are famous.” I asked if they were twins and they said no. But quickly told me that they shared the same birthday, just not the same year. They immediately took their seats and I was amazed that a 11 and 13 year old could not only follow the material (some of the ChiRunning concepts are hard for adults to follow!), but you can tell they were totally into it.
At one point, Danny said: “let’s go outside and start practicing”. I happened to be looking over at them and they had huge smiles on their faces, like someone just told them they would get free chocolate for the rest of their life. It was OBVIOUS to me that these girls love to run. Watching them run was an enlightening experience. We always say that children have natural running form because they haven’t had the posture issues that we get as adults, and although they have a few things to work on from a ChiRunning technique perspective, they had a beautiful gait and form. It was OBVIOUS again by the smiles on their faces that they were eager to learn but enjoyed running. They were just gliding around the tennis court lapping the adults, happy as can be.
Of course, when I arrived home, I had to google their names to see what I could find on them. And lo and behold, there is quite a bit of controversy around them.
These girls are amazing athletes. They’ve both completed over 100 endurance races, mainly half- and full- marathon distance trail runs at an average pace of 6:23/mile! Last year, Kaytlynn won the XTerra won the women’s field to become the youngest ever champion of an XTERRA trail half-marathon, placing 11th overall with a time of 1:39:31 (only 10 men were ahead of her!).
I do not have children, only nieces and a nephew so I was interested in reading the various controversial blog posts that were out there:
- 12-YEAR-OLD TRAIL RUNNING PHENOM WINS XTERRA 21K from Live Bravely Outside
- Tween Running Phenoms Pose an Interesting Dilemma – That All of Us Have to Answer from The Great Fitness Expert
- THE DARK SIDE OF YOUNG GIRLS WHO RUN LONG DISTANCES from Fit and Feminist
- How young is too young? from Hungry Runner Girl
- and many more…
Of course the controversy is about their age and whether it’s appropriate they are racing this hard at their age. I also found this great video clip from Rock Center with Brian Williams: http://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/07/16883813-too-fast-tween-sisters-log-miles-in-endurance-runs that I really enjoyed.
So what’s my opinion? Well, for starters, since they are clearly using the ChiRunning technique which promotes injury-free running, they are on the right path!
After watching the video and reading the blogs, it seems to me that their parents are doing the right things for them and taking all the right precautions by getting them regular check ups with doctors. I imagine that parents know their own children more than anyone.
Bottom line for me?
They love to run, they are enjoying it, they are using an injury-free technique and are supervised by their doctors….so who am I to judge them? Run free and happy and I’m sure we’ll see these girls in the Olympics some day! I’m just honored to have met them and be inspired by their passion for running.
What are your thoughts?
From My Running Story to Yours…. (if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)