Kade Lovell, in spite of his age, is already an experienced runner. So when the 9-year-old boy was nowhere to be seen during the St. Francis Franny Flyer 5K last September 21 in Sartell, Minnesota, his mother was left curious, worried, and later, proud. The young fourth-grader had meant to run in the 5K (3.1-mile) race, but after receiving some wrong directions, he ended up making a turn that led him to a much longer course – the 10K.
“I was a little confused, but I was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to listen to her,” he told reporters at CNN, recounting how a woman had told him to go straight ahead after seeing the 5K turn. He would also joke about how one of the first thoughts that came to mind was how much trouble he was going to get into with his mother.
“When she gets worried, she starts to get a little angry,” he shared. “So I thought she was going to be worried and a little angry.”
And he wasn’t wrong. Upon not seeing her son by the finish line after quite some time, Heather Lovell asked her mother to drive the route of the 5K in hopes of finding Kade. She even sought out the help of a fireman and several bystanders. To her, the first alarms came in the form of typically slow runners whom she knew Kade should have been able to outrun.
“I know he should be in front of these people, or at least with them, if anything, and he wasn’t there,” Heather said.
Kade is actually quite the runner. He even set a record of 21:20.4 during last year’s 5K race within his age group and is currently training for the Junior Olympics, so not seeing him immediately told his mother that something was wrong.
It wasn’t until Heather’s brother-in-law, who also happened to be running the same 10K race, heard from a spectator of a boy running in the race would she finally learn of what had happened. Of course, the boy turned out to be Kade and Heather’s anger and anxiety soon faded away, primarily because of her son’s strong finish.
Kade had yet to go over 6.2 miles during practice, let alone run a 10K race. So when she finally saw Kade running by his lonesome, she was under the presumption that he had been lagging behind.
“He’s alone, he’s all by himself running, and I’m like, ‘Gosh, this poor kid is dead last. He’s all by himself, he must be hurting,” she told CNN.
But as luck would have it, Kade actually won the race with a time of 48:17.4. He crossed the finished line a solid minute before a 40-year-old man who came in second place, according to a report from the Times.
Having first picked up cross country at the tender age of 6, Kade has been running the 5K as one of his training methods for the Junior Olympics, of which he is no stranger to. He trains at least thrice a week but according to his mother, will be staying on the 5K tracks until he is older.
Heather describes the series of events as an emotional roller coaster, her son would probably tell his own kids one day. When asked how Kade celebrated his victory, his mother simply replied that he took a nice long bath and relaxed on their living room couch.