For most people, taking a wrong turn in a race would be a nightmare come true. That was not the case for nine-year-old Kade Lovell of St. Cloud, Minnesota, who won a 10K on September 21 despite having only planned to race the 5K.
Last year at the same race, the St. Francis Franny Flyer in Sartell, Minn., Kade raced the 5K (as planned) and placed second overall. This time around, he hoped to take the next step up to the top of the podium, but any chance he had of winning the 5K race was lost when a volunteer misdirected him to the longer 10K route.
Heather Lovell, Kade’s mother, said in an interview with The New York Times that her son recalled being confused when he was told to continue straight rather than to turn, but that he assumed it was the correct route. In the end, the mistake did not matter, and Kade earned the top spot–not only in his age group, but overall–in the 10K race in a time of 48:17.
Kade’s mother, expecting him to finish in around 20 minutes (his time last year was 21:20), became understandably worried as runner after runner crossed the finish line and her son was nowhere in sight.
She began asking other runners and volunteers if they had seen Kade, wondering if he had gotten hurt or lost. Eventually, a spectator told her that they had seen Kade running “really well” on the 10K route.
After learning he was safe, Kade’s performance was not of interest to his mother, and when she saw him she told him he was “in so much trouble.” Luckily, Kade was able to convince his mother that it had been an accident.
After hearing about Kade’s route mixup, a race official adjusted the nine-year-old’s race registration, officially placing him in the 10K and confirming his win.
It will be a full year before Kade can take another shot to try and win the Franny Flyer 5K. Hopefully next year’s course will be more clearly marked.