FAIRFIELD — Score two for the fifth-grade GATE class at K.I. Jones Elementary School.
Madison Denny, 10, was the top female finisher in the 5-kilometer run/walk at Saturday’s Loop the Lagoon run in Vacaville. Her teacher, Michela Ward, earned the same honor for women in the 10K run/walk.
Ward’s time was 46:48. Madison’s time was 19:51, about a minute more than the record of 19:01 she set at the annual Shamrock run March 16 in Dublin. It earned her a world record for her age group from the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.
Madison began running about a year ago and began entering races in January. She’s done about 10 races since then.
Ward ran her first race about 15 years ago and has done about 40. Her number bibs hang on one wall of her classroom.
Both will be at this weekend’s Girls on the Run in Napa Valley. Girls on the Run is a nonprofit running program for ages 8-13.
Ward works with the Girls on the Run chapter at K.I. Jones Elementary School. Madison doesn’t belong to the group, but can participate in the race.
Coached by her father, Gregorio Denny, Madison quickly learned how to run a race.
“I look at my Garmin watch and see the pace,” she said. “I speed up and take deeper and slower breaths so I don’t run out of breath so easily.”
Madison also plays on a competitive soccer team. During the games, her parents noticed her speed. Her mother was a Division I college runner, Gregorio Denny said.
“It’s in the family,” he said.
Training involves 2-mile runs on a treadmill and 90 minutes of soccer on weekdays. She gets Friday off. Weekends are filled with races or soccer games.
The married mother of four children, ages 2, 4, 6 and 8, Ward finds weekends are the best time for her to get in some long-distance runs.
Both say it’s hard to describe the runners’ high they feel.
“It’s my down time,” Ward said. “It helps me feel healthy.”
“I always feel good (after running),” Madison said. “Running is fun. It takes practice to get first place. But you never want to stop.”
“She likes getting medals,” Gregorio Denny said. “She likes winning.”
Ward recognized her student’s gift for track the first week of school.
“I’m very proud of her,” Ward said. “I’m excited to see Madison excel.”
Madison hopes to attend college on an athletic scholarship. Her goal is to run the 5K in 15 minutes or less.
“I’m not sure it will ever happen,” Madison said.
Her teacher is more optimistic.
“I can see it happening in the future,” Ward said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.