Follow The Republic:
Thirteen-year-old Nick Neeley of Columbus will be one of the youngest runners in the half-marathon event of the Sept. 28 Mill Race Marathon, joining hundreds of others.
The Northside Middle School eighth-grader spends his afternoons training with the school’s cross-country team and weekends running with his parents, Rachel and Darren Neeley. All three are signed up for the 13.1-mile event.
“It took a lot of guts for me to sign up for the half-marathon, to say, ‘Let’s do it,’” Neeley said after a recent cross-country practice.
But the young runner is looking forward to the opportunity to gain experience and self-confidence as a result of his commitment to compete.
Neeley started running two years ago, first participating in a local youth running event and also seeing how much his sister, Rose, 14, enjoyed running on the Northside team.
While his sister decided to commit more of her time to the Columbus North High School band, Neeley found that he loved long-distance running.
“I like being able to pace myself,” said Neeley, who runs Monday through Friday with his school team and spends the weekends increasing his distance.
Although he has never run a half-marathon before, he is confident he can go the full distance.
He’s already run 10 miles straight and he’s working up to 11-mile runs this month. That’s well beyond a typical cross-country course, which is less than 3 miles.
Neeley said he’s not the fastest or slowest runner on his cross-country team, but he has the desire to keep getting better.
Rachel Neeley, 43, said she is looking forward to being with her son to celebrate the half-marathon finish. She completed the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon 10 years ago, but she walked the course. This time, she’s running.
“We’ve reached down, and said, ‘We’re going to do this,’” said Rachel Neeley, who admits running 13.1 miles will be more of a challenge for her than her son.
“I was resistant to running. It’s not in my nature. But after watching the kids, you can’t help but get excited about running.”
The race also has become a true family affair with Rachel Neeley’s mother, Terri Winnick, 63, also running the half-marathon, and Rachel Neeley’s sister, Mary Farmer, running the 5K.
Once in college, Nick Neeley plans to focus on academics instead of running. His career goal is to be an engineer, like his dad, who works at Cummins. His mom is a prepress artist for West Essex Graphics in Columbus. Neeley also has a younger brother, Thomas, 10.
But for now, the teen likes the idea of being part of the inaugural marathon and combining that with a current passion for running.
“It’s my favorite hobby,” Neeley said of his daily running habit. “I thought it would be really great to say I’ve run a half-marathon.”
He’s looking forward to being part of the North High School cross-country team next year, but knows Indiana High School Athletic Association rules will not permit him to run in the Mill Race Marathon since it will be during the fall cross-country season. So this year’s marathon event might be his last shot for awhile.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.