By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — All of their hard work really paid off.
Maci Harvey, Meadow Keltner and Rayna Keltner recently placed first, second and third respectively in 10K and 5K trail races in southern Wisconsin in the Kettle Moraine State Park as part of The North Face Endurance Challenge.
Maci Harvey is 12 years old and is in seventh grade at Colfax Middle School.
Meadow Keltner is 11 years old and is in sixth grade at Colfax.
And Rayna Keltner is nine years old and is in third grade at Colfax.
“My wife, Jaci, and I have been runners for a long time, running distances up to 50 kilometers, or 31 miles,” said Scott Keltner.
“After one of our most recent ultra-marathons, a 50K race in the Muir Woods in San Francisco, we decided it would be fun to get our younger kids into running,” he said.
Scott said he and Jaci wanted the girls to be involved in a healthy lifestyle activity and also decided that, as a blended family, running was an opportunity to do something together and to “grow a bond that will stick for life.”
Scott, Jaci and the girls began training for the race at end of the school year and continued until the second week in September.
“At times, the training proved very difficult in many ways,” Scott said, noting it was difficult sometimes to find the time to train and that the training took a physical and emotional toll on the family.
“The kids worked very hard and persevered through it, and we couldn’t be prouder of them,” Scott said.
“The finish of the race was emotional, with tears of joy and excitement. It is hard to recreate the feeling of crossing the finish line in any other way,” he said.
During the trail race in the Kettle Moraine, Maci and Meadow ran the 10K (6.2 miles). Rayna was unable to do the 10K due to age restrictions, so she ran the 5K or 3.1 miles.
The trail races took place at the same time, so Jaci ran the 5K with Rayna, and Scott ran the 10K with Maci and Meadow.
Training for the trail races included running four or five days per week with two days of active rest.
“We always trained as a family. In fact, my son Ben, who is six, would ride his bike along for the majority of the training runs. Our training weeks could be anywhere from 10 to 18 miles per week, depending on where we were in the training schedule. Some weeks were tougher than others,” Keltner said.
In addition to being a family activity, “we also wanted the kids to have a goal for the summer, rather than sit on the couch and play on their devices,” he said.
For the girls, training “was an important lesson on working hard to get the results,” Keltner said.
As it turned out, Rayna was the youngest participant in the race this year.
The race director “shared her story to all of the runners as an inspirational motivator at the beginning of her race,” Keltner said.
Rayna finished third in her age category in the 5K with a time of 33.39. She was 59th out of 122 total participants and 35th out of 78 female runners.
Meadow finished second in her age category in the 10K with a time of 1:15:51. She was 158th out of 228 total participants or 63rd out of 120 female runners.
Maci finished first in her age category in the 10K with a time of 1:15:47. She was 156th out of 228 total participants, or 66th out of 120 female runners.
Maci and Meadow have already decided they would like to try a half-marathon next.
“We had just made it to the two-mile marker when Meadow looked at me and said, ‘I’m running the half marathon next year Dad!’ Maci quickly agreed. During the next couple miles, they decided they wanted to run 13.1 miles by the time they are 13 years old, and since a half marathon is 13.1 miles, I have no doubts they can accomplish this,” Keltner said, noting that once again, they would train as a family.
After the race, Rayna said she wished she could have run the 10K and plans to do the 10k next year, he said.
Maci, Meadow and Rayna have participated in the Twister Run 5K in previous years.
The Twister Run is sponsored by the Colfax Kiwanis and is held the morning of the Firemen’s Ball in Colfax.
The Kettle Moraine race was, however, their first official trail run, Keltner said.
“Trail running is much more difficult than your standard road race, although in our opinion, much more enjoyable,” he said.
Some of the obstacles in a trail run include hills, unsure footing and uneven trails.
“In fact, just as I was instructing the girls to focus on each foot step as we ran, I fell myself. I did not injure myself, thankfully, and none of the girls had any challenges with the tough trails,” Keltner said.
Jaci, Scott and the girls also were able to camp for the weekend near the start of the race.
“So that it made it fun as well,” Keltner said.
Scott Keltner participated in track and cross country while he was a student at Colfax High School.
He graduated from CHS in 1998.
“I have been runner since the fifth grade when my fifth grade teacher, Lori Ketter, inspired me to run,” Keltner said.
“I went on to run for Coach Joe Doucette. (As many people know), Coach Doucette has a way of bringing out the best in his athletes. His coaching instilled not only a love of running in me, but a lifelong desire to lead a healthy lifestyle,” Keltner said.
Jaci, on the other hand, “found running later in life, and we learned to train and run together. We challenge each other and truly find relaxation in our running. This was another great reason to pass it on to the kids,” he said.
Jaci Keltner graduated from Colfax High School in 1997.