Sometimes, you have to let your children break away and do their own thing.
In a metaphorical sense, it’s a notion many parents face when their kids are teenagers, but on Saturday, May 3, at the Wisconsin Half-Marathon, Jeff Bliss literally watched as his 10-year-old son, Noah, left him behind and cruised solo toward the finish.
The pair had started out running together and planned on a 7:45 pace, but by the 9.5-mile mark, Runner’s World reports, Jeff had slowed down for an aid station. Noah wanted to push ahead, and that’s just what he did, finishing in 1:37:15 and setting a new single-age half-marathon world record. The previous world record for 10-year-olds was 1:38:54, set by Drew Dahlin in 2012.
Noah placed first in the 19-and-under division, and he was 71st out of the race’s 2,073 total finishers. His father crossed the finish line a few minutes behind him, and his mother, Monica, came along shortly thereafter. Noah waited for both parents and handed them bottles of water.
Last Saturday’s run wasn’t Noah’s first half-marathon, and amazingly, he first took on the distance at the tender age of eight. The youngster was inspired by his father—an avid road racer with a half-marathon personal best of 1:28:30—and even though the Wisconsin Half doesn’t usually allow participants under the age of 14, his parents contacted race director Jonathan Cain to plead their son’s case.
Cain allowed Noah to run, and according to Jeff, there’s no evidence to suggest that his son is doing any harm to his body.
“From everything we read…and [from] talking to his doctor and the medical director for the race, we weren’t concerned as parents,” Jeff said, according to Runner’s World. “Studies had shown that there was no concern.”
“His interest in running seemed unique for an eight-year-old, so if he wanted to be a part of it…I wanted him to experience it,” he added.
While world single-age record are tracked and verified by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS), USA Track & Field has different criteria for American records. As a result, Noah won’t actually be credited as America’s all-time fastest 10-year-old half-marathoner. That distinction belongs to Jerome Daniels, who ran 1:25:42 in October 1984.
The ARRS has never received a submission from Daniels, and in theory, they could retroactively recognize his 1984 time, thereby taking away Noah’s world record. But as Runner’s World points out, it could all be moot. Noah will tackle another half-marathon on May 18, and this time, the 4’7” fourth-grader will be starting closer to the front. Since the ARRS looks at chip time, not official race time, the improved position could give him the edge he needs to run a new personal best and grab another set of headlines.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg