Editor’s note: This story was originally published on momaha’s sister site, LiveWellNebraska.com
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By Katy Healey
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Seth Hirsch crossed the finish line ahead of nearly 4,000 people at the 32nd annual Corporate Cup on Sunday. Then he disappeared behind a crowd of other runners who gathered around the 13-year-old to congratulate him on taking 10th place.
“You’re pretty fast,” someone told him. “Especially for how young you are.”
But really, Seth is fast for almost any age.
He averaged 5:27 per mile during the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) race, finishing in just 33 minutes and 50 seconds — less than three minutes behind the winner, a college athlete 10 years his senior. The only other 13-year-old to sign up for the race and list an age finished in about an hour.
Seth started running competitively a few years ago.
“He did well from the start,” said his father, Todd Hirsch. “It was pretty obvious that he had a love for running and a natural knack for it.”
He’s committed, too.
Most days Seth wakes up around 5 a.m. and is out the door, running through his neighborhood or around nearby Lake Zorinsky. It’s not unusual for the eighth-grader to run 10 miles in the morning before heading to Russell Middle School, said Liz Hirsch, his mother.
“He likes to keep moving. He’s one of those kids. He can’t sit still for long. He has a really strong work ethic. He takes sports seriously and his academics, too. I wish I could say he got that from me,” she said, laughing.
This summer, Seth accompanied the Millard West High School cross-country team on a 12-mile run. It took them around 72 minutes. Six-minute miles, give or take.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Seth said. “We weren’t going all out.
“I just want to be really good at running and want to get better.”
He got better Sunday. The Corporate Cup was his second 10K race, and he beat his previous time by almost 90 seconds.
A year ago, he ran a 3,000-meter race — roughly 1.9 miles — in 9:34:82, breaking the National Junior Olympic record for his age group.
He wants to run in high school. College, too. Maybe even the Olympics. Galen Rupp, a 10K runner, is his favorite Olympian.
Seth wouldn’t be able to keep up with Rupp yet.
His legs take three steps to an adult runner’s one. He’s not quite 5 feet tall, but his dad suspects he’ll be able to look his competition in the eye soon enough. Seth’s brother is almost 6-foot-3, and his sister, a cross-country runner at Millard West, is 5-foot-11.
Seth is taking this week off to nurse a sore heel. He has a soccer game this weekend and needs to rest, his parents told him.
But it won’t be too long before he ties on his running shoes and slips out the door.
“It’s hard to keep him locked up,” said his dad, laughing.
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