Run Through History a family affair

June 19, 2006|by JANET HEIM

KNOXVILLE, Md. - Dominic Smith-DiLeo celebrated his eighth birthday by running his first 10K race - the 27th Annual Run Through History at Antietam National Battlefield.

The biggest gift of the day came from his 10-year-old brother, Vincent, who let him cross the finish line first, earning Dominic the silver medal in the Under 13 age category in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 30 seconds.

Vincent settled for the bronze medal in 1:11.24 and said he hopes upcoming races don't fall on Dominic's birthday.

"Happy birthday," Vincent grumbled.

The race was a family affair. The two brothers ran with their father, Mike DiLeo, 52, while their mother, Carrie Smith, 44, ran with their 5-year-old sister, Sierra.

Race director Dick Snyder said that, to his knowledge, Dominic and Vincent are two of the youngest runners to have participated in the 10K.


"I can't recall anybody else doing it at that age. For kids that age to have an interest in running that distance, that's very unusual," said Snyder, who has been race director for 18 years.

Snyder said that over the years, there is an occasional 12- or 13-year-old who runs, but most children choose the 2-mile fun run.

Parents lead the way

Mike and Carrie are avid runners. Carrie, who grew up in Ohio, was on the cross country and track teams in high school and Mike, who is from Baltimore, started running when he turned 30.

The couple owns a private gymnastics school in Rockville, Md., called MarVa Tots & Teens. They moved to Knoxville 16 years ago after coming out for a ride and falling in love with the setting, Carrie said.

Mike has finished 11 marathons, Carrie seven - four before children and three after, with a 10-year hiatus in between. They are currently training for the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington this fall.

Last year, the family ran a 2-mile fun run, which the boys thought was too easy. In March, the boys started training with their parents, at first with the boys on their bikes.

In time, one of the boys rode the bike for a mile while the other ran, switching on and off. Sierra also rode along on her bike.

The three children also play soccer with AYSO in Boonsboro and said running sprints during soccer practice helps their training.

To test their ability, the boys ran the Frederick Twilight 5K on April 29 with Mike and again found the course easy. They were ready for a bigger challenge.

Mike and Carrie had run the Run Through History many times before. They were concerned about the course, though.

A difficult test

The rolling hills of Antietam National Battlefield make for a challenging course - not optimal for the boys' first 10K experience.

With most of the family's training runs on the fairly flat C&O Canal towpath, which is about a mile from their home, they wondered if the boys were ready for the hilly run.

"That was the only reservation we had about this race. It was a tough course," Carrie Smith said.

The course usually draws regional runners, but this year the top male and female finishers were from Ethiopia (Garmessa Kumessa) and Russia (Elena Orlova). They both made the trip to Sharpsburg from their homes near Washington.

The race course makes for a good training run for marathons, Mike DiLeo said.

On race day, Mike was grateful for cooler temperatures. His goal was to keep the boys to the pace they had been training at - about 12-minute miles - so they would be able to finish the race.

He wanted them to be able to talk to him throughout the race and said he was holding them back until the end.

Mike had told the boys they would cross the finish line together, but toward the end, he let Dominic go ahead.

There was only one other child in the race, a 13-year-old, who finished ahead of the Smith-DiLeo brothers.

The boys had no trouble finishing the race and Vincent said he felt like he could have kept going.

The children attend Pleasant Valley Elementary School - Vincent will be in fifth grade, Dominic in third grade and Sierra in first.

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