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Meet the youngest runners competing in DC Rock n' Roll half marathon

Michele and Daniel Smith started running with their mom during the pandemic and are now set to conquer their second half marathon

WASHINGTON — You would be hard-pressed to find a lot of adults willing to strap on sneakers and run for more than two hours. 

Not so for the Smith family of Avon, Ohio who will be traveling to D.C. this weekend to participate in the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Washington D.C. half marathon. 

"I don’t know. I just like running," said 12-year-old Daniel Smith during a recent ZOOM interview when asked how his young legs will propel him 13.1 miles. "I just like getting my energy out and I like it when the wind goes against you.”

The United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Washington D.C. half marathon and 5K is one of the largest events in the city since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 17,000 runners are expected for Saturday morning's event.

RELATED: Rock N Roll Half Marathon returns to DC this weekend

The D.C. Rock n' Roll full marathon scheduled for March 2020 was one of the first casualties of the pandemic restrictions issued by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

Daniel Smith, who said he's been a runner for the past four years, could have chosen any number of races to participate in. But, he chose this one for a couple of reasons in particular.

"The medal looked cool and I saw it [the race] goes through a lot of places and I haven’t been to Washington D.C. yet," said Smith. 

It will be Daniel's second half marathon, having completed one in 2020 with his older sister Michele, 13, and their mother Heather Smith. 

Credit: Heather Smith
Daniel and Michele Smith pose with their medals after a 2020 turkey trot 5K event

“We’ve all just started to run together. It's been wonderful," said Heather. "We do lots of 5k’s. They both just expressed interest during [the pandemic]. They wanted to start training. Let’s train for something. So, we started training for a half marathon and they just loved it.”

The family said they do their training runs together. They all trained up to eleven miles in preparation for this upcoming race. But at the end of the race, the gloves come off. 

"Last time we ran, we ran together," said Daniel Smith. "But the last .1 mile, I ran ahead and beat her."

The half marathon begins on Washington's National Mall, winds around downtown D.C. and ends at RFK Stadium. You can track runners, including this reporter, by downloading the Rock n' Roll Running Series App.

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