Eight years old
April 29, 2020
Tears streamed down senior Maddie Meiner’s face as she ran. She was 8 years old and all she had to run was a single lap, but the distance left seemed so much longer. This wasn’t her first track meet, but she hadn’t been competing for long. Her sprint slowed to a run, which slowed to a jog. Tears welled up in her eyes.
Then her legs stopped moving entirely.
As the other kids ran past, they left her standing alone at the halfway point of the race.
Meiner had been running track since she was 6. Her parents, both college level track athletes, encouraged her to compete. She started competing in meets at 7 with the Texas Ameteur Athletic Federation. She spent her summers training and her weekends racing on high school tracks.
But at that moment, the distance ahead of her was too much. She would’ve done anything else. She would’ve rather run the 50, 100 or even the 200 meter dash. Just not the 400.
“I liked track, just eight-year-old Maddie did not want to run that whole lap,” Meiner said.
As she scanned the crowd of parents behind the waist-high fence that circled the track, she found her parents, who were cheering for her to start running again.
“I’m never doing this again,” 8-year-old Meiner said.
The pack of kids was already 200 meters ahead of her celebrating their wins, their parents hugging and congratulating them.
She could’ve quit so easily. She could’ve walked off the track, cut across the grass and gave up on the race.
But that wasn’t Meiner. She wiped the tears out of her eyes and started to jog, finishing the race dead last.