12-year-old running prodigy Alayna Szuch

12-year-old running prodigy Alayna Szuch

Posted by: Tom Boyd

Who won the Superfeet Apres 5k and beat all but two men? Enter 12-year-old running prodigy Alayna Szuch

In case you’re wondering who the next wave of bionic running stars will be, look no further than the Szuch children.

If you were watching the first few runners fly across the finish line on Friday in the Superfeet Apres 5K or on Sunday in the Superfeet 10K-ish trail run, you probably spotted a skinny little blonde girl lighting up the trail. And instantly, like many of us, you probably did a double take.

Alayna Szuch of Evergreen, age 12, won the 5K, jetting through the course in just over 20 minutes to beat her closest female competitor by more than four minutes. But that’s not all. Her time would have placed her third overall, beating all but two men, including her brother, 14-year-old Colin Szuch, who did take third place in the men’s 5K race, posting a time 17 seconds slower than his sister.

“I started running about four years ago and part of the reason I got into it was that I wanted to be faster than my brother,” Alayna said after Sunday’s 10K, in which she placed third among the women, finishing behind seasoned runners Megan Kimmel and Nicole Mericle and posting a time that was faster than all but a handful of men in the race.

“He started caring once I started catching up,” Alayna said of her brother. “Now when we run, the whole way we want to beat each other.”

Following Sunday’s Superfeet Trail 10K-ish, Alayna’s three-year-old sister Cara hung on her arm and her father, Pete Szuch, downplayed his daughter’s display of super powers.

“We all do biking, running and skate-skiing … we’re always outside doing stuff,” he said.

Among the many brows Alayna raised throughout the weekend were those of local trail running icon and U.S. Mountain Running Team coach Ellen Miller.

“I want to talk to her,” Miller said after Sunday’s 10K. “We usually don’t recruit women under age 16 but … we could maybe make an exception.”   

As a young child, Alayna said she, “spent the whole day in my room doing art.”

Running did not appeal to her, but as she began doing jaunts with her parents and brother, she slowly grew to love it … And quickly became super fast. Although she’s only 12 and starting seventh grade next fall, Alayna is already thinking about how running could shape her future.

“I want to do marathons and get scholarships for college,” she said.

Putting in several miles nearly every day and likely to rake in plenty more victories, the pre-teen shouldn’t have any trouble reaching any high point on her radar. The best part is, she honestly enjoys it.

“I just realized that running makes me happy,” she said. “It makes me feel really good.”

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