During the Cross-Country season, a friend of mine brought in an article about Kaytlynn and Heather Welsch, two running sisters from Texas. What I have been struggling with since hearing about the two of them is whether I think this is a good or a bad thing. You see, Kaytlynn is 12 and Heather is 10 and they have run oodles of races. Kaytlynn even won the women’s division of the XTerra 21K trail race with a blazing time of 1:39:31. For non-runners, that’s about a 7:40 pace over 13.1 miles of trail. Kaytlynn has even completed a marathon. They’re both so little that they have to fold the bib numbers in order to pin them to their clothes. That’s ridiculous. Heather is so young that she pins stuffed animals to her hats in order to keep her company on the runs. That is young. Yet, they are gifted, gifted runners. On road races, Kaytlynn can run sub-seven miles for a half marathon. That’s faster than I can ever dream of being. It’s such a toss up.
As a parent, I would want to encourage my kids. You want them to follow their passions and talents, but is this abusive? These girls competitive and I worry about the long term effects, particularly eating disorders. They are so tiny that when they start to develop, it might cause serious problems. I’m so torn. I admire them and I fear for them. What would you do?