Carson City 12-year-old to run first marathon
Parker Lehmann was born to run.
The 12-year-old Lehmann, who started to run when he was in third grade, runs the biggest race of his young life on Sunday when he joins approximately 8,000 runners in Sacramento for the annual California International Marathon.
It will be Lehmann’s first-ever marathon. He ran a half-marathon last year, and won a 10-mile event in Reno. The 26.2-mile race, which was founded in 1983 by the Sacramento Running Association, begins at the Folsom Dam, passes through semi-rural suburbs into bustling mid-town Sacramento, and finishes at the California State Capitol building.
“I’d been thinking about it for a year,” Parker Lehmann said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s been on my mind for a while. I started training at the end of cross-country season in October. I’m a little nervous. I’m excited that all the training is over.”
Parker’s dad, Sean, who’s a competitive runner himself, said his son wanted to run a marathon two years ago. Dad vetoed the idea.
“I asked him if he wanted me to run with him on Sunday, and he decided he wanted to do it himself,” Sean Lehmann said. ““I will be close by…….”inside the ropes” for 2 miles at the start. There really is no official entry point at the the starting line, anyone can show up, but you need a chip to have an official start and finish. Similarly, along the course anyone could jump in and run with someone for a bit, I plan to do that for six miles towards the end, but exit the course well before the finish. I did e-mail the organizers at CIM and they don’t seem to have a problem with me doing a few miles with Parker.”
“We do believe he is the youngest person competing this year and potentially the youngest in the last few years, “ said Ellen Moore, who works for the CIM. “The CIM does not have a youth age group as we do not encourage youth participation because of the difficulty of the event and the logistical challenge of a point-to-point marathon.”
And, the younger Lehmann said it’s different running against older runners.
“It’s a little bit intimidating,” Parker Lehmann said. “If you run a lot of road races you get used to running against older runners. It’s certainly a lot different than cross-country. As you get older, age means less and less.”
Lehmann feels he’s ready. He has been running 30 to 40 miles a week, and he believes running at a higher altitude helps him.
The Carson Middle School student said he’s hoping to finish between 3-hours 10-minutes and 3-hours 20-minutes, which works out to a pace between 7:15 and 7:26 per mile. He’s allowed to wear his watch, which also has GPS.
“I’m going to start a little slower than usual,” Parker Lehmann said. “If I feel good at the end of the race, I can push.”
It will be interesting to see if Parker will be able to cover the entire distance without walking. He said he’s been able to get through all his training runs without ever stopping.
Running has come naturally for Lehmann. Not surprising considering his mom and dad both run.
“I think I was in third or fourth grade when I started going out on runs by myself,” Lehmann said. “When I was little, I played flag football and soccer, and a little basketball in the recreation league.”
After finishing in the top five during third, fourth and fifth grade, running really became his love. And, last April, Parker beat his dad for the first time in an 11-mile race on a family trip to Alaska.
“That felt good,” Parker admitted.
“I love competition. Winning helps me like it (running more). I’ve met a lot of my friends through running. My ultimate goal is to do it through high school and see where it takes me from there.”
His dad is his biggest fan, and he’s surprised and pleased by Parker’s progress.
“He works hard,” said the elder Lehmann, who coaches the distance runners at CHS. “He has a great work ethic. I don’t have to push him much. He’s done really well. Barring injury or burnout, I think he could run at the college level.
“His ultimate ultimate goal is to run a 4-minute mile. Another goal is to do it at Oregon. He has a big poster of Steve Prefontaine on his wall.”
Parker is off to a good start. He beat Richard Shroy’s 1,600-meter mark at CMS by five seconds (5:21 to 5:26).
Shroy is one of Carson’s best all-time runners. Parker Lehmann often works out with Carson runners in training sessions and more than holds his own.