Just as when women first joined the running community, and ‘professionals’ warned they shouldn’t run because of potential damage to reproductive organs, when children started joining the ranks of ultrarunners and turning in record-breaking times, there was talk about high mileage stunting growth and causing physiological problems. We now know that all that concern is a load a bull. Children have proven that—baring any pre-existing conditions—running high mileage affects them exactly the same as it would any healthy adult. Let’s take a look at some of younger running phenoms in recent years and marvel at what these children have showed us they can do.
By age three (nope, not a typo. Three.), the India-native Budhia was the youngest person ever to finish a marathon. By age four, he had completed 48 marathons. Clearly, this child phenom drew attention and celebrity within the running community, but his personal story puts a very sad spin on his running accomplishments, greatly taking away from the excitement of them.
Born to a very poor family, Budhia’s mother sold him for 800 rupees, and he was eventually taken in and adopted by a man, Biranchi Das, who became his marathon coach. After allegations of exploitation of Budhia, the Indian Child Welfare officials became involved. Mr. Das was murdered in 2008 under unrelated terms. Budhia now lives in a government-run sports hostile and is still physically active, but he does not run extreme distances.
This 12-year-old may be the youngest individual to complete a 100-mile race. This spring, Colby completed the Ride The Wind 100-miler in Las Vegas. Colby covered the miles and 7,000 feet of elevation gain in 32 hours, seven minutes, and 30 seconds. Although official records are only kept for U.S.A. Track and Field members on USATF certified courses, it is believed that Colby may be the youngest to have completed a 100-miler.
Just this year, Winter became the youngest competitor to complete a marathon in Antarctica. The 14-year-old endured –13 degree Farenheight temperatures to complete her impressive feat. She was the 11th finisher and third overall female, with a time of 4 hours and 49 minutes. Winter isn’t planning to stop there either. Running in honor of her father who died from prostate cancer, Winter aspires to become the youngest individual to complete marathons on all seven continents. Considering that she’s already got the hardest one in the bag, it seems quite likely she will accomplish her massive goal.
Nickademus may be the oldest one on this list, but his accomplishment is still far beyond his age. Nickademus became the youngest competitor to ever finish the Badwater Ultramarathon in 2009, at just 19 years old. This Ultramarathon is known as one of – if not the – hardest ultra around the globe for one reason: the heat. The 135-mile race takes place in the appropriately named Death Valley, California, where the hottest temperature on earth’s surface has been recorded. The race eventually climbs 13,000 feet up Mount Whitney to the finish line. On average, there are fewer than 100 participates in the race, and their average age is 44.
Children have always been inspiring through their bravery, or perhaps naivety, and willingness to try so many new things, simply because they haven’t yet been taught they “can’t.” If only this attitude could live on in us all – just imagine what we’d accomplish.