It Runs in the Family
After getting beat by an entire family at a race, I began to wonder, how do parents inspire their kids to become a running team?
Last October, after placing eighth in a small crosscountry race in Grande Prairie, Alta., I did what almost every runner with a wounded ego and too much time on her hands does: I Googled the people who had passed me. I learned then that not only had I been beaten by Bailey Haugan, a 17-year-old girl from Fort St. John, B.C., but also by her 16-year-old brother, Tate and her 39-year-old mother, Nicki.
Though my dad dabbled in the 400m in high school and my younger sister joined me on a relay team in Grade 9, I don’t come from a family of runners. My dad and sister had natural speed but little interest in training. No amount of cajoling could persuade them to lace up their shoes and join me for a run. The more I asked, the more they resisted.
I’ve always envied families who share a love of the sport, and wondered how they sustain it. Does a running family occur naturally in nature, or is it the result of a persistent parent?
Curious, I reached out to Bill Corcoran, a coach who put me in touch with the Haugans and the Keddies, a running family in Edmonton. I also called Rob Chambers, who runs with his family members in Halifax.
I asked all three families how running became a shared passion. In all three cases, it began with one parent falling in love with the sport. Interestingly, though, none of those parents pushed their children to follow in their footsteps.
Bailey Haugan always looked up to her mom, who was a successful ultrarunner, but she came to the sport on her own terms, after quitting dance a few years ago. Her brothers also fell in love with running. Thirteenyear-old Ty ran his first 5k at age two and Tate, 16, is a competitive triathlete.
“The kids are extremely self-driven,” their mom Nicki told me. “I’m the one who has to tell them to take a day off.”
Candice Keddie’s son and daughter, who are now 17 and 19, both spent time in jogging strollers as babies. Candice didn’t push her children to run – she even tried holding her daughter back – but the kids embraced it nonetheless. Daughter Danae ran her first half-marathon when she was 12 and Ty when he was 11. Both are now competitive runners, but they still log many kilometres with their mom.
When Rob Chambers brought his daughter Elliot to a youth race at the Bluenose Marathon on her third birthday, he brought a stroller along, expecting she would alternate between running and resting during the four-kilometre route. Instead, she bolted from start to finish. The pair now run-commute together and Chambers even started a youth running team for other kids interested in training with them.
“It’s got to be an organic thing,” he said, adding that running helps his daughter excel in other sports, like soccer.
“My main goal for her is to use running as a way to access fitness,” he said.
Most runners have experienced the benefits of running in groups, either in training or a race setting. But there are added benefits for family members who run together, at least according to the parents and kids I talked to.
“If you don’t feel like running, there’s always someone to go with,” said Bailey, who trains with her mom and siblings most mornings.
Candice Keddie appreciates the deep conversations she has with her children during the many hours they spend running.
“I think it brings us closer,” her daughter added.
“I’ve always envied families who share a love of the sport, and wondered how they sustain it. Does a running family occur naturally in nature, or is it the result of a persistent parent?”
LEFT The Blue Nose Marathon encourages participants of all ages to race together