Ellie Kate Simmons, a 7 year-old second grader from Jordan Ridge Elementary School in South Jordan, Utah finished her first ever running race, the 30th annual 13.1 mile St. George Half Marathon, this past weekend. Ellie finished in a time of 2:37 and was the youngest runner on the course.
Ellie was inspired to start running after finding out that her mom, Anne Johnson Simmons ran the 26.2-mile St. George Marathon 30 years ago when she was just 8 years old. Ellie and her mom began training soon after her baby brother was born last July. They started out just walking to school each day which eventually turned to running to school and then each week they would add 1 more mile to their training program until they could run 13- miles. Ellie said the best part about the race was the Gatorade at the aid stations and meeting a new friend, 38 year-old Debbie Labaron from Clearfield, UT who caught up to Ellie to find out how old she was and ended up running and visiting with her and her mom for many miles. Ellie was also running for a special cause and wore her pink running outfit to honor her 71 year-old grandmother, Linda Simmons, who was supposed to be running with her but underwent colon cancer surgery a few weeks ago and was not able to participate this year.
What’s next for Ellie? Her mom, aunt and uncle are race directors for southern Utah’s new Top of Zion Relay in June and northern Nevada’s Ruby Mountain Relay in August, both part of the Run Back Country running series, so she will keep up her training so she can run those relays with her cousins and maybe even join her parents and grandmother on the St. George Marathon course in October. Running is part of Ellie’s family tradition and she wants other kids to know that you are never too young to start living a healthy and active lifestyle.