When she was four, Keelan Glass was running in 5Ks. At five, the youngster competed in her first 10K. Now six years old, the Abilene, Texas youth just completed her first half marathon, finishing the 13.1-mile Showdown Half Marathon in an astonishing time of 2:46.31. That time, a 12:47-mile pace, set a national age-group record. According to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, Keelan became the youngest person to ever complete a half-marathon. The previous record was held by a nine-year-old.
Keelan finished fifth among 10 competitors in the 14-and-under category in the race. None of those racers was younger than 12.
The six-year-old thinks she can run a full marathon by the time she's 10, though her mother expressed some doubts about letting her increase her distances. It might not be for lack of readiness. The race announcer told The Dallas Morning News that Keelan didn't even seem to be breathing hard when she crossed the finish line.
Keelan's parents compete in triathlons and used to train by pushing their daughter in a stroller. She eventually started running with them. The parents told the Morning News that they talked to an orthopedist about how a half-marathon would affect a six-year-old. That hasn't stopped some critics from questioning her run.
"There's a lot of potential for bad things and not a lot of potential for exceptionally good things to happen," Dallas pediatrician William Moore told the Morning News.
Though his concern is legitimate, there are plenty of good reasons for a young girl to pursue an interest in running. In an era when most complaints about children's exercise focuses on what kidsaren't doing, it's nice to hear tales of children who do show an early aptitude for sport.