By Jasmine Rolfe
A swarm of mini marathon runners will don their race bibs and lace up their running shoes on Saturday 1 July for the Zespri 4km and 2km Junior Dash races as a part of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
Amongst them, 12-year-old Max Hooper from Victoria Point in Brisbane, will return for the Junior Dash for the third successive year.
The Queensland youngster will be one of the leading contenders in the 4km race this year after winning the 11-12 year age division last year in 13 minutes 54 seconds.
He will be out to reclaim his title and perhaps go close to the age record of 13:16 set back in 2010.
And with the help of coach Ben Norton, Max is aiming to finish as high as possible in the overall placings against competitors up to two years his senior.
“The first year he competed, he won the 2km Junior Dash and only just missed out on the age record by about three or four seconds,” Max’s mother Andrea said.
“Last year his aim was to go as fast as he could and get as close as he could to the kids that were older than him.
“But at the end of the day he just wanted to have fun.”
Competing in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is a family affair and an annual tradition for the Hoopers, with dad Peter and mum Andrea both registered for the ASICS Half Marathon and sisters Leahrose and Gemma also signed up for the Zespri Junior Dash.
As a national track and field and cross country placegetter, Max loves competition and training including regular runs with his family.
“The kids train at school and once a week we all go for a 10km run together,” Andrea said.
“And if the kids go on a run together, it’s always competitive.”