LAKE CHARLES — Many people can say they have run a half-marathon, but not many can say they have done it as a third-grader. Zane Sargent, a 9-year-old student at Prien Lake Elementary, is one of the few that has completed the 13.1 mile challenge.
On Dec. 8 he ran the Swamp Stomp Half Marathon at the Sam Houston State Park along with two of his teachers and his father and finished in 2 hours and 49 minutes.
“I think it was more about the lesson he learned,” Zane’s P.E. teacher Paula Bruchhaus said. “To me it was the lesson of ‘look, I’ve trained for this and yes it’s hard and my feet are killing me but I’m going to finish what I started.’ ”
Bruchhaus had noticed her student’s love for running in his running club mileage, on the playground and during her P.E. classes. In first grade, Zane signed up for the 100 Club Fitness Challenge at school. The challenge involves doing 100 jumping jacks, 90 crunches, 80 squats, 70 leg lifts, 60 jumping jacks, 50 crunches, 40 squats, 30 leg lifts, 20 jumping jacks, followed by a 10-minute run. Zane was the only first-grader to sign up and complete the challenge.
Bruchhaus started the program to fight childhood obesity.
“Eleven years ago I started running and started doing spin classes, and doing marathons and triathlons and lost 85 pounds,” she said. “The running changed my life, so I guess it’s nice that I’m able to help the kids.”
At the beginning of this school year, Bruchaus approached Zane with the offer to run a half-marathon with her, and the two began training after school and on weekends. When Zane’s third-grade teacher saw what they were doing, she also decided to join them to run her first half-marathon. They started out with two-mile runs that increased to eight miles.
When the day of the race came, Bruchhaus said the other runners were surprised to see such a young child running with them. During training, Zane had only run eight miles, making the 13.1 half-marathon the farthest he had ever run.
He has also been an inspiration for other children at school. According to Bruchhaus, other students became interested after hearing about Zane’s running. She said there has been an increase in the number of students who want to sign up for the running club. Zane tries to run two or three miles a day and plays soccer and baseball. He also wants to run a full marathon.
Zane said it is important to run “to stay healthy and live a better life” and that it has helped him become “faster and stronger.”
With so many issues revolving around childhood obesity, Bruchhaus said, she is glad to see such a young student setting physical goals for himself and working hard to achieve them.
And Zane’s advice for other runners? “Always do your best … keeping training, and then if you’re ready, you can do it.”
Zane said that even though the half-marathon was hard and he was sore at the end, he wants to continue racing. He has already completed another run, this time to fight cancer.