Running in the Family Genes – Shelby Daugherty

Shelby shows everyone her ribbon

This is the story about how our oldest daughter started running and parts are funny. One Saturday in April 2004 while at a local 5k race. our daughter Shelby approached us about participating in the 1-mile fun run. She saw other children getting numbers and pinning them on their tee shirts and wanted to run. My husband and I where a little skeptical about letting our three-year old run 1-mile. What would other people think? But after talking to friends who have children that run we decided to let her. She was only three and all the other children where at least double her age. She ran ¾ miles, stopped for about 10 seconds and continued running to the finish. The race was held on the roads and at the time she held our hand whenever she was walking in the street. My husband ran with her, holding her hand the entire race. After the race we asked her if her legs where sore and she responded “no my arm is”. Every 1-mile fun run after she ran the entire distance. During the races she would keep constant conversation, even chatting with spectators. As a three-year old she would tell everyone cheering, “ I’m the fastest three-year old. “ She often was the youngest in the races. Sometimes adults would have to work to keep up with her as she talked to them and encouraged them to run fast. I guess we should have realized that Shelby would develop an interest in running. At the age of 2, she would run laps around the kitchen sometimes for 10 minutes. Shelby told a local newspaper reporter who interviewed her that she runs “because I get prizes.” Besides the occasional fun run, Shelby didn’t practice or train and did no additional running other than normal age appropriate playing. She saw both her parents lacing up for runs everyday so it seemed natural to her. One day she had a temper tantrum because I wouldn’t let her come on a three-mile run with me. She wanted to run with me, I told her three miles is too much for a three-year old and she started to cry. She asked how old you have to be to run the 5k races. We told her about 6-8 years old. Little did we know that she would hold us to our words?

Shelby not slowing at the end of 5k

When she turned 6 years old she asked us about running a 5k. In August 2007 she ran her first 5k. We told her to stay with and run with a friend’s daughter who was also 6 years old. During the race she would get ahead of the other girl and then wait up. We asked her if she was tired when she waited up and she responded with “no you told me to run with her the whole race”.


3 Responses

  1. love the stories about the girls, that’s really awesome!

  2. Magnificent account – just reinforces to us that what we are doing with our son Harry (8) is not too soon or too much. He’s entered into the Melbourne Marathon 2.5k and the Maribyrnong 4k both in October. He also completed his 4k run with me at the weekend, without stopping in 24 minutes.


    • It is good to hear other parents giving running a good name. After all most sports use our sport as a punishment so kids grow up hating running. Good luck with your son running. My advice is to let him run and have fun now- the serious training starts in high school. I also wrote about our other daughter who at 6 also started to take an interest in running. It is now a family activity. My husband was nationally rank in the 20k, but now is 46 and not as fast so he doesn’t race. But that gives him the chance to run the race with our daughters and help them during the race. When I started running and bet most of the boys (at 12) it was a great self confidence booster because I found something I was good at. I noticed your son was signed up for a race in Melbourne. We are from the US. My husband represented the US in 4 world duathlon championships and our favorite site was Tasmania Australia. The people are extremely friendly over there. We would run in large groups taking up quite a bite of the roads and the cars would not yell at us. In most parts of the US they would beep at us.

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