For as long as he can remember, Kade Lovell has had a passion for running, leading him to start running with a cross country club when he was just 6 years old. Now, he’s winning races he didn’t even mean to enter.
To help him train for his second Junior Olympics, his mom, Heather Lovell, signed him up for the St. Francis Franny Flyer 5K. The race was going smoothly at first, but things took a terrifying turn when Kade briefly went missing.
Heather tried remaining calm at first, assuming that Kade was having a slow day. But when other kids his age who are usually slower than him started passing by, she knew something had gone wrong. She drove the entire 5k route but her son was nowhere to be found.
“I had everyone looking for him, even a fireman,” Heather said. “I was like, ‘You need to go find my son.’ I was bawling. This had never happened before.”
Finally, a spectator called her husband, a runner in the 10k whose route intercepted with the race Kade was doing. It turns out that he had noticed “a little kid who was running really well” in his own race.
When Heather caught wind of this, she was a mixture of relived and upset, thinking that Kade had purposefully left his own race in order to join the other.
“When he finished, I was like, ‘You are in so much trouble,'” Heather said.
She quickly learned, however, that Kade’s longer journey wasn’t planned.
“I was just running,” Kade said. “As soon as I saw the 5K turn, a lady told me to keep going straight. So I kept going straight. I was a little confused.”
He didn’t even realize that he had made a mistake until he saw a sign indicating he was on the 10k route. His first thought was that his mom was going to yell at him, but this panicked 9 year old just kept running. Fast enough, it turned out, for him to finish the race in just over 48 minutes, landing him in first place! For perspective, the second place winner is 40 years old, and the average age of those in the top 10 was 38 years old.
“I was like, ‘First in his age group?’ And she was like, ‘No, first overall!'” Heather recalled saying when she found out he had won. “He actually probably did better than he normally does because he was trying to finish and in panic mode.”
Kade may have just accomplished an incredible feat, but he’s not slowing down anytime soon. In fact, he’s already planning on entering another 5k, the fourth annual Running HOME for Jacob. This time, Heather says she’ll “stand at the 5K/10K mark and say, ‘Turn here!'”
As scary as the whole mix-up was for Kade and his family, they’ve already reached a point where they can laugh about it, especially since it makes for an unbelievable story.
“It’s one we’ll never let him forget,” Heather said. “‘Remember that time you accidentally won a 10K?'”
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