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Student goes the extra mile in half marathon

Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 3:01 PM

By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Many people can say they have run a half marathon, but not many can say they have done it as a third grader. Zane Sargent, a 9-year-old student at Prien Lake Elementary, is one of the few that has completed the 13.1 mile challenge.

On Dec. 8 he ran the Swamp Stomp Half Marathon at the Sam Houston State Park along with two of his teachers and his father and finished in 2 hours and 49 minutes.

“I think it was more about the lesson he learned,” said Zane’s P.E. teacher Paula Bruchhaus. “To me it was the lesson of ‘look, I’ve trained for this and yes it’s hard and my feet are killing me but I’m going to finish what I started.’”

Bruchhaus had noticed her student’s love for running in his running club mileage, on the playground and during her P.E. classes. In first grade Zane signed up for the 100 Club Fitness Challenge at school. The Challenge involves doing 100 jumping jacks, 90 crunches, 80 squats, 70 leg lifts, 60 jumping jacks, 50 crunches, 40 squats, 30 leg lifts, 20 jumping jacks, followed by a 10-minute run. Zane was the only first-grader to sign up and complete the challenge.

Bruchhaus started the program to fight childhood obesity.

“Eleven years ago I started running and started doing spin classes, and doing marathons and triathlons and lost 85 pounds,” she said. “The running changed my life so I guess it’s nice that I’m able to help the kids.”

At the beginning of this school year Bruchaus approached Zane with the offer to run a half marathon with her, and the two began training after school and on weekends. When Zane’s third grade teacher saw what they were doing she also decided to join them to run her first half marathon. They started out with two-mile runs which increased to eight miles.

When the day of the race came Bruchhaus said the other runners were surprised to see such a young child running with them. During training Zane had only run eight miles, making the 13.1 half marathon the farthest he had ever run.

He has also been an inspiration for other children at school. According to Bruchhaus other students became interested after hearing about Zane’s running. She said there has been an increase in the number of students who want to sign up for the running club. Zane tries to run two or three miles a day and plays soccer and baseball. He also wants to run a full marathon.

Zane said it is important to run “to stay healthy and live a better life” and that it has helped him become “faster and stronger.”

With so many issues revolving around childhood obesity Bruchhaus said she is glad to see such a young student setting physical goals for himself and working hard to achieve them.

And Zane’s advice for other runners? “Always do your best...keeping training and then if you’re ready you can do it.”

Zane said that even though the half marathon was hard and he was sore at the end he wants to continue racing. He has already completed another run, this time to fight cancer.

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