Should Children Run Endurance Events?

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Every time I post a photo of the Redden kids on Facebook, I see the same type of comments: lots of admiration, some shock, some concern, and some downright anger.

Seth and Sabrina Redden are the proud parents of two unusual kids. Tajh (male, 11) and Teagan (female, 9) are both avid trail and ultra runners. Last year, Teagan ran her first 100K and 100-mile distance. She was nominated for the Arizona 2013 Rookie of the Year Award at mcdowellmountainman.com. Needless to say, her competitors were older than her by a large margin…as they usually are.

Team Redden is so mind-blowingly young and accomplished that Outside Magazine covered them in an article, The Art of Raising Young Ultrarunners.

View Teagan Redden’s race results.

Like the Redden kids’ Facebook page.

The debate as to whether children should be running endurance events rages on. However, it is not an entirely new concept. Children have been running marathons for a while now.

Data from the Twin Cities Marathon shows that between 1982 and 2005, 277 children have crossed the finish line ranging from ages 7 to 17 with finish times from 2:53 to 6:10.

Unfortunately, there is little scientific data on the effects of long distance running on children.

This topic intrigued us enough to chat with Seth and Sabrina Redden as well as a pediatrician on the Natural Running Network Podcast a couple of weeks ago. On the show, we discuss veganism for kids, thermoregulation in children, and a child’s eagerness to please his/her parents.

nevertooyoungtorun

Direct Podcast Link HERE

Here are some things that didn’t make it into the podcast:

Colby Weltland and Ed “The Jester” Ettinghausen

I had hoped to have child prodigy Colby Weltland on the show. Unfortunately, his family was traveling for a race and they were unavailable.

Colby is a 13 year old kid who has already finished several 100-mile races and aspires to be youngest Badwater finisher. I also spoke to his close family friend and pacer, Ed “The Jester”. An accomplished ultra runner, Ed has thousands of miles of experience and has mentored/paced Colby to most of his finishes.

When I asked for his insight, he wrote the following:

Just for more fodder on the subject, I know one of the concerns people have is that running at a young age will do physical and emotional harm to kids. My four kids have never run an ultra, but have run many marathons, running their first one at the ages of 8, 9, 11, and 14 (and that was because she’s a type 1 diabetic, otherwise she would have run her first one at an earlier age).

They’re all young adults now and are just fine, physically and emotionally. My 21-year-old daughter who was 8 at her first marathon just did the Disney World Half Marathon and works for Raw Threads a clothing company that specializes in running attire. She is a vendor at many of the big marathons and she still loves the running world.

I was told by many people that running a marathon at such an early age would damage her growth plates. I feel really bad now, because apparently it did stunt her growth–she’s only 5’11″!

And for me personally, although I didn’t run marathons as a kid, I did run my first two at the age of 17, and three more at the age of 18. Thirty-four years later I set three American age records: 200k, 24-hour, and 6-day, so I don’t think running long distances as a teen hurt me too much. Anyway, just thought I’d share that with you.

Oh, and one more family of young ultra runners. Brandon and Cameron Plate are from Oklahoma. They’re 12 and 13 and have both completed two 100+ mile races. Colby & I and the two of them ran together at Silverton 1,000 and ATY last year. You can find their stats on Ultrasignup as well.

Jester on . . .

Follow Colby’s blog.

Join the Run Jester Run Friends Facebook page.

Remember: There are many great programs out there like Girls on the Run and the 100 Mile Club that help introduce kids to the joy of running. They don’t have to run extreme distances to stay healthy and find a love for the outdoors.

You can check out our other running podcasts at the Natural Running Network HERE.

What are your thoughts? Should children be allowed to race ultras?
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You May Also Enjoy:

History of the Popularity of Ultrarunning From 1585 to 2010

How to Train Your Human to Run an Ultra

How to Train for Your First Ultramarathon

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Poems for Travellers and Future Explorers

My Sisters

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but one of my projects for 2013 was to start mailing postcards to my sisters from all the places I visit. I am the oldest of four sisters, two of them under 13. I know that they miss me, and I miss them a lot too.

We haven’t had very much contact this past year, and they’ve recently been going through some tough family challenges. I wanted to reach out to them again. The two older ones have already had their fair share of rough waters, and it sucks to see the little ones still going through bumpy times.

My hope is that these postcards will be something they can collect, and that will help them feel connected to me even though I’m far away. Although they’re not old enough to visit me on their own, I hope that I can inspire them to someday take journeys of their own and travel on their own terms.

There’s so much more to the world than what they have seen, and I wish for them many adventures. When I was growing up, I would have loved to know someone who was traveling and forging a path for me to follow, opening my eyes to new possibilities (sometimes our own spaces can feel claustrophobic). I hope to be that person for them.

Today I bought my first postcards, and wrote the following poem for them. I’m sending each of them different verses on their postcards, so when they combine the cards, it will be the entire poem. I thought I’d share it here as well.

I also added another two poems that I wrote with the same intentions, for future postcards and travels.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

For Elizabeth, Emma, Kayla, and Naty. You guys are awesomeness in tiny packages.

 

With Far Away Love From Your Sister

 

It’s a really big world.

But also, it’s small.

Just when you think that you have seen it all

There’s one tiny detail you missed or forgot,

One part of the world where you did not stop.

 

It’s a really big world.

But also, it’s tiny.

There’s old and there’s new and there’s rocky and slimy.

There’s mountains and deserts and valleys and trees.

How cool is it that you can go where you please?

 

It’s a really big world.

But also, it’s little.

North, East, South, and West. And don’t miss the middle!

You’ll have lots of time to go where you choose.

There’s so much to learn—how can you refuse?

 

So when you can travel, pack water and snacks.

Go far and go fearless and never come back.

Go up and go down and even go sideways.

Anything’s possible when you decide it!

 

Say goodbye to old things; say hello to the new.

Say thanks to all those who help you pass through.

Sometimes you’ll need help; sometimes you’ll help others.

You’re certain to find a new sister or brother.

 

Go out where there’s people, and explore where there’s none.

Forget all the rules; don’t forget to have fun.

Be safe but be fearless; be silly but wise.

Keep your helpful hands busy. Smile with your eyes.

 

It’s a really big world.

But also, it’s home.

You’ll find other travelers; you won’t be alone.

And when you decide it’s your time to come through,

You’ll find me here waiting… still waiting for you.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

 

On Money and Important Stuff (And Stuff That’s Not Really That Important After All)

 

What will you live on? How will you pay rent?

These are the questions some folks will present.

Well-meaning questions from people who care,

But they sometimes forget how things work out there.

 

Some things are important and some things are not,

And some things can trap us and tie us in knots.

Some things like money will come and will go,

And some things like time are best taken slow.

 

Lunches and beach days and hot tea and brunch:

These are all things that shouldn’t be rushed.

Whether you’re rich or whether you’re poor,

A long lunch with a friend, we all can afford

 

Some of us travel and some of us stress.

Sometimes we’ll do both, but one is the best.

Don’t rush; take your time. There’s plenty to see.

Don’t worry; go slow. Might as well climb that tree!

 

Good friends are important, and family too.

Houses and cars are just part of the glue

That hold things together, but not everything sticks.

Some things like giggles and laughs might not mix.

 

So seek to be happy, whatever the cost.

Seek to be free, even if you get lost.

Seek to help others and always have hope.

If you see someone slipping, toss them some of your rope.

 

If you’re poor, that’s okay. If you’re rich, that’s fine too.

Do what you love, even when others boo.

Take what you need and need what you keep.

Breathe deep, eat good food, and catch up on your sleep.

 

Remember it’s never as bad as it seems.

You need less than you think to go after your dreams.

Don’t let all those little-big things hold you back.

They’re not that important—you’re on the right track.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

 

On Dreams

 

Dreams are a funny, peculiar thing.

They hug us and cheer us and help us to sing.

But often they’re fragile, so easy to break,

So easy to lose and then it’s too late.

 

Dreams are what help us keep thinking ahead.

We see things that might be, dream them up in our beds.

But even in real life, our dreams can come true.

I’ve seen all this happen; it can happen to you!

 

All you must do is never give up,

And always remember each dream that you’ve thunk.

Write them down, say them loud, hide them deep in your socks.

When things start to look gloomy, take them out of their box.

 

They’ve got special powers to keep your hopes up,

Turn your frowns into smiles, get you over that rut.

Keep all your dreams safe; don’t forget that they’re there,

Even way after you’re old with grey hair.

 

You’re never too young or too old or too slow—

Just give them some water and help them to grow.

It’s never too late; dreams can really come true.

I’ve seen all this happen; it can happen to you!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

5 Keys to Enjoying All the Benefits of Money Without Actually Having Any

How I Retired by Age 30

Seeking Dispensers: A Call to Embrace a Wild Life

 

Running with a Purpose: Hands Across Nations

This fall my baby sister will be running her first marathon, and she is doing it for charity. My sister is a budding minimalist/barefoot runner, and she will be running her marathon in VFFs. I started training her on trails and hills, and in her weight loss journey to date, she has lost 75lbs. Today she can run right beside me, and we’ve run trails together barefoot for almost 3 hours. I’m so proud of her! I asked my sister to write a guest post for me about her connection to her charity. Here’s her post. Please consider supporting her.

HANDS ACROSS NATIONS

by Elizabeth Rodriguez

You know those long commercials that show malnourished children in Africa, Central America, and other developing places?

The commercials show dirty children with big bellies swarmed by flies, looking all sad. They are supposed to make you feel sorry enough for the children and their families to donate some of your money. I don’t like those commercials because I feel like they’re false. They don’t show the entire picture.

My parents are originally from El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America and also the most populated. It is considered to be a developing country where some of the children in the commercials live.

My Dad took me to El Salvador when I was 15. He told me I would be living there with my Dad’s woman and her family, whom I had never met. I would attend high school and forget everything and everyone I knew back home.

During my stay I lived like a “real Salvadorean girl”. I went to the market at 5am every morning. I lived in a dirt floor house with bars on the windows, washed my clothes by hand, and took care of my new step-mother’s daughter. I was not allowed to go anywhere without my Dad. I felt miserable and trapped.

During my stay, I saw the children in the commercials. They were dirty, and some of them even had the famous big bellies. It was all very real. The poverty, the poor living conditions and the malnutrition. However, these children were not sad. They were laughing, shouting, singing, running around naked with no shoes, and having the time of their lives. They were so happy that you almost didn’t notice all the negative things surrounding them. Their joy was so strong it was contagious. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched them play in the streets.

These children and their families barely have anything, yet they have joy in their lives. So many of us search for that kind of joy, and they have what we want. What they don’t have is an equal opportunity to be the best they can be. To grow up with proper healthcare, nutritious food, a good education, and a safe home.

North Americans have so much stuff. We are overwhelmed with opportunities and we sometimes take what we have for granted. Things like easy access to clean water, clothes, food, education, a home. These are all things that are considered as luxury to so many people around the world.

We also have the opportunity to share and give.

Yesterday, I registered for my very first marathon! I am running and raising funds for a great organization called Hands Across the Nations.

Hands Across the Nation is a charitable organization committed to making a positive impact on the social and economic conditions in the developing world. The organization remains 100% volunteer in order to ensure the best use of its resources. Hands Across the Nations is also highly focused on “capacity building” – working within the same communities every year in order to maximize their impact and create complete solutions.

The focus is put on projects related to health, education and water systems. One of my lifetime goals is to go to a part of the world where I can help with my own two hands. I can’t wait to someday volunteer overseas. For now, I will run in my hometown and raise as much money as possible so that less fortunate families can continue to live happily and have a greater opportunity to reach their potential.

I eventually left El Salvador due to health reasons and now I am back in Canada. It was easy for me to leave and get the proper healthcare I needed in Toronto. I didn’t think about it then, but I know now that it doesn’t work that way for so many other people. In a perfect world, everyone would have access to health care, among other things. The world will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help one another and try to make this world a better place.

If you’re reading this, I don’t want you to feel pressured to donate anything. The most important thing is that you find happiness in your life and live without any limitations. Laugh, shout, dance, sing, and run around naked wherever you are. Joy will be waiting for you there.

You can view Elizabeth’s donation page here.

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