By Peter Day
When fourth-grader Dutch Demke told his teacher, Kay Hall, that he wanted to run 300 miles during the year-long 100 Mile Club challenge, she thought he was dreaming.
“Yea, right, that’s really a big goal,” Ms. Hall remembers thinking.
But on Thursday at Lucerne Valley Elementary School’s awards ceremony, the 10-year-old was presented a trophy for making his dream a reality by running more than 300 miles since school began last August. He also received awards for running the most miles in his grade and received a racing headband for surpassing 200 miles. Moreover, his 304 miles were the most of any runner in any grade at LVES.
Earlier in the week, while his family watched proudly, the school surprised Dutch with banners, posters and veritable hero’s celebration for his accomplishment.
Dutch attained his goal one step at a time.
When it’s “Mile Monday” for fourth-grade runners, Dutch runs 15 to 16 laps instead of the six that comprise one mile around the school’s playground. Usually he runs at least two miles a day, often more.
Dutch may not yet know how endorphins can create a “runners high,” but he simply loves to run.
“My body takes over and it’s like a rest for my brain,” he says.
He also has gotten faster as the year has gone on. In the time it used to take him to complete nine laps in the morning he now runs 12. That’s two miles — before school.
Dutch wants to continue running in the upper grades, and he is interested in playing football. Not surprisingly, he wants to be an athlete when he grows up.
“I think he already is, don’t you?” Ms. Hall says.