Leo Schmaus, 8, runs as youngest competitor in Montana Half Marathon

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Courtesy photo

Leo Schmaus (right) stands with his sister Danielle Anderson after both completed the Montana Half Marathon in Billings on Sunday, Sept. 16. Schmaus finished the race as the only competitor in the 14-and-under age group for males.

In the final 2-3 miles of the Montana Half Marathon in Billings, 8-year-old Leo Schmaus’ enthusiasm for running began to wane. Through the first seven of 13.1 total miles, the Hardin resident had run the race with his older sister Danielle Anderson, who inspired him to enter in the first place. He was the youngest competitor on the track for the Sept. 16 event; the two runners-up both were 14-year-old girls.

He and Anderson had split up going into the final stretch, with Schmaus’ father, also named Leo Schmaus, riding a bike beside him and giving him words of encouragement.

Nearing the end, the younger Leo (heretofore referred to by his first name) was “ready to fall over,” his father said, but began sprinting once he saw the finish line.

“I’m kind of proud of myself,” Leo said after making it to the end. “I can’t believe I ran the whole thing!”

According to Leo’s mother, Suszanne Schmaus, He has cousins and an aunt with histories of running – his aunt, she continued, even competes in 50-to 100-mile marathons.

Leo’s parents initially were hesitant to let him participate, as there was a $70 fee to enter that they already had spent on his sister. In addition, his parents weren’t sure he’d be able to finish the task.

“He didn’t train very much, probably just three or four days,” Suszanne said, “but he’s active with football and being a younger kid, so he was in pretty good shape.”

After some convincing, they signed him up two weeks before the event as the only runner in the 14-and-under age group for males. His final time for the run was two hours, 58 minutes and 26 seconds.

He’s proud of himself and so are his parents, Suszanne said, adding that he knows how to “set a goal and accomplish it.”

For more information on the Montana Marathon, go online to www.montanamarathon.org.

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