Eight-Year Old On 5K Fun Run With Dad Takes Wrong Turn Into 10K Run, Wins It
It happened at the Performance Spine & Sports Medicine Trenton Half Marathon in Trenton, NJ, where John Hatch thought that he would introduce his eight-year-old son, Nicholas Vandenberg, to competitive running. The boy was active in soccer and other sports, but had never run more than a mile at once.
But once the gun sounded, Nicholas took off and left his dad in the dust. In fact he was so far ahead that he got lost, took a wrong turn, and found himself in the middle of the much more competitively serious 10K event.
Oh well. Instead of stopping, Nicholas decided to just run in that race. And despite stopping twice to tie his shoes and once to ask directions, Nicholas finished 37th out of 1,102 runners. That was also good enough to win the U-14 division of the race.
Nicholas said he tried asking adults around him where the finish line was and was met with snarky responses like, "At the finish line."
Back in Trenton, Nicholas said he realized he was almost near his home and almost turned off and ran home, but then some encouraging runners said "you're about one mile away, keep going."
Meanwhile, Hatch finished the 5K and was "completely freaking out" back at the finish line at Arm & Hammer Park at the Trenton waterfront.
Luckily, Hatch said a friend of the family was at the race with a bicycle and found Nicholas nearing the end of the 10K course and also encouraged him to keep running.
Nicholas crossed the finish line with a time of 50 minutes, 48 seconds, and it was all official: ech runner had a tracking chip in the registration numbers on their shirts to make sure they ran the proper time and distance.
Nicholas, a third-grader, will now try and squeeze running into his adult plans:
"I want to be a motorcycle rider, a motor cross rider, run in the (Summer) Olympics, play soccer in the World Cup, be a NASCAR driver, but first be a rock star," he said.
He also said he plans to retire as a mailman at the age of 85, because he's good at "delivering messages at home."
— NJ News Mzone Media (@Mzone_Articles) December 13, 2015