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2878 Views 18 Replies Latest reply: Dec 12, 2007 9:08 AM by cajj RSS 1 2 Previous Next
baldrunner Rookie 10 posts since
Aug 24, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Nov 29, 2007 3:34 PM

Interview with 15-year-old ultra runner Michael Kanning

  • crunningman Rookie 918 posts since
    Jun 7, 2002

    15 is a bit young to be running 100 Milers, but I suppose he could be doing drugs or breaking some other kind of law.

    Just hope he doesn't get burned out by college!

  • thr3ee Rookie 20 posts since
    Sep 12, 2007

    quote:


    Originally posted by crunningman:

    15 is a bit young to be running 100 Milers, but I suppose he could be doing drugs or breaking some other kind of law.

    Just hope he doesn't get burned out by college!


     



    I met Michael early in the year at a 50K event. He was inexperienced at the time, but very eager learn and a very nice and polite kid. If you saw him, you would never think that he is only 15. Not only has he finished a 100 miler, but he has also started to really up his speed as well. At Firetrails 50 he came in at 8:16 and at Helen Klein he notched a 50-mile PR of 7:35.



    ----



    -Steve

  • The Professor063 Rookie 49 posts since
    Aug 11, 2007

    When I lived in Arizona I used to run ultras with Paul Bonnett (well, I didn't run with him, we just happened to be registered in the same races) and he was 15 at the time as well. He now runs for North face and holds the record for the youngest sub 24 hour finish at Western States (I think he was actually under 20 hours). In an interview he credits his lack of burnout to the fact that his parents supported, but never forced, his running. It sounds as if Michael Kanning is in the same boat.

    If anything he can create an "Ultra Mom" bumber sticker to replace the overused "Soccer Mom" bumper stickers that are obligatory for all suburban minivans 

  • crunningman Rookie 918 posts since
    Jun 7, 2002

    Yeah!  I think Bonnett was 12 when he finished his first 50M.

    I just remember at 15 I was just starting to develop myself as a high school miler. Trying to run under 4:30. Everyone has different goals at that age, but I won't debate that here.

    I compliment this kid's finishes, but still don't think anyone under 18 should be running an ultra, but then again that isn't for me to decide.

  • The Professor063 Rookie 49 posts since
    Aug 11, 2007

    "I just remember at 15 I was just starting to develop myself as a high school miler. Trying to run under 4:30."

    Wow...I was just trying to hide the fact that I still played Dungeons and Dragons 

  • crunningman Rookie 918 posts since
    Jun 7, 2002

    quote:


    Originally posted by The Professor:

    [BWow...I was just trying to hide the fact that I still played Dungeons and Dragons   /B




    Now that is a game I couldn't figure out.  If I remember it was very popular with a few of my friends in the late 80s, early 90s.

  • spaff Rookie 41 posts since
    Jul 4, 2007

    This part of the interview really stuck with me...
    "I mentioned before that my mile is 5:04, which is good but not particularly special. My goal is to break 4:45 by the end of the track season this spring. I enjoy XC and track greatly, especially the team aspect of it, but ultimately my talents do not lie in that area. Working to improve in the shorter distances certainly helps me cardiovascular-wise when racing much longer distances, but my primary focus is with ultras because, frankly, I’m a lot better at ultras than XC or track."

    ........For a 15year old, 5:04 for the mile is certainly very respectable and leaves lots of room to improve. However, there is no way that you can improve to your maximum potential in mid-distance when you are running ultras. I highly doubt that he has given it a fair chance at the shorter distances. Michael has gotten plenty of recognition, which is great but I hope isn't a primary motivator for doing ultras at such a young age. For his overall development as a runner, both potential AND injury wise, I definitely think he would be much further ahead concentrating on the shorter distances first. I understand that if it's what you enjoy doing, and you get some success, it's tough to think long term and run distances you might not enjoy as much, but that is when it would be great if Michael had a mentor (ultra runner or other runner)who would step in and help to paint the big picture for him.

    I guess the one line that I keep looking back at is "I enjoy XC and track greatly, especially the team aspect of it, but ultimately my talents do not lie in that area." ...It seems like Michael is maybe focusing too much on his current ability level and not looking to the future, which I realize is a very difficult thing for a 15year old. I was the same way in high school as I was running half marathons. Looking back 26 years ago, I really wish I had someone who would have told me, "Look, you have plenty of time to run longer distances. You should work on your speed right now while you can, and it's safer for you".

    Many may disagree with me, and I'm not trying to offend, but I think we may actually be doing a bit of a diservice to Michael by giving him this kind of recognition.

    I think it's great that he loves to run and loves to run a lot! I just still maintain that he needs to have someone help guide him and look out for his best interest. His body is still growing and you'd hate to see an injury have a major impact on his ability to enjoy our sport for many years down the road.

    I honestly don't think that any 15 year old should be running more than 60-75 minutes as a long run. I also agree that 18yrs should be the minimum age for entry into an ultra (by race directors) .


    [http://This message has been edited by spaff (edited Nov-30-2007).|http://This message has been edited by spaff (edited Nov-30-2007).]

  • crunningman Rookie 918 posts since
    Jun 7, 2002

    quote:


    Originally posted by thr3ee:

    If you saw him, you would never think that he is only 15.


     



    Looks like a typical 15 year old to me. Not sure what you all think.

  • dg1033 Rookie 138 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    At what age did Anton Krupicka start running ultras??

    I recall reading something about a 25 mile training run when he was in his early teens...

  • ctxcrossx Rookie 119 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    I'm surprised at (but totally respect) those people who would think he's too young, esp. in this sport.  The whole point of ultra running is to push personal boundaries.  Some of the races (Barkley, Badwater) are clearly a bad idea to most, but they are there to challenge people, and what they think is possible.  I'd say, "go for it" even if he were two (and had parental consent, of course)!  !http://www.coolrunning.com/forums/wink.gif|src=http://www.coolrunning.com/forums/wink.gif|border=0!

    Chris

  • It's interesting to see what everyone has to say! A little bit of controversy is good-it would not behoove me to go forth blindly in the sport without questioning the wisdom in what I intend to do. Thanks to all for taking the time to write your thoughts.

    For those of you who believe I am too young: as I stated in the interview, I completely respect your opinion and, although I disagree, I acknowledge the possibility that I am wrong and that my current level of running may prove detrimental to mind and body later in life. But very few teenagers have consistently run ultramarathons, so little evidence exists to support either argument. I have only to look towards my own experiences in the sport, which are overwhelmingly positive. And of course I may be biased, but I don't think it's a "disservice" to give me recognition because I don't run ultras for any illusions of glory or fame. I'm not going to run my legs off week after week just so I can get a few guys to talk about me on a running forum. No, like all of you, I run ultras simply because I love it. I'm sure James Bonnett weathered much of the same criticism I do now when he was my age. But I don't think anyone told him he was too young at the finish line of his record setting 19:42 WS at age 18 in 2005. Like Bonnett, I will let my results do the talking.

    Thank you to all for reading the interview! Tony and I are also currently at work on an article about the "why do you run?" question we have all been asked which we will submit to UltraRunning magazine, so I encourage you to give it a read as well when it comes out.

    -Michael Kanning

    P.S. "Ultra Mom" bumper sticker-now that is funny! Oh, and, crunningman-I believe that Steve was referring to my personality and level of maturity when he said "you would never think that he is only 15", not my physical appearance 

  • rustyboy Rookie 112 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    Wow. Michael, you'll be happy to know that your post certainly does NOT make you sound like a typical 15 year old. In the least.

    Sheesh. I look back at what a little twerp I sounded like.

    Congrats on your successes!

  • Sherpa John Rookie 367 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    I didn't know ultra-running had a minnimum age limit. Is there a height requirement too?? I can see it now...

    "You must be THIS tall to run 100 Miles."

    When I was 15 I was taking care of my paraplegic grandfather... was I too young for that too?

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