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Speedy nine-year-old wins age group and fans’ hearts in her first-ever 10K

Taylor Kennedy Leemrijse, a nine-year-old from the Greater Toronto Area, won her age group and was a crowd-favourite in her first-ever 10K.

Taylor Kennedy Leemrijse
Taylor Kennedy
Taylor and Lisa Bentley, the 10K winner, after the race. Photo: provided.

A nine-year-old nearly matched her age with kilometres run by doing her first-ever 10K at the second installment of the Toronto Women’s Series on Saturday. Taylor Kennedy Leemrijse, who celebrated her ninth birthday six days earlier, ran 50:22 to win her age group as well as the hearts of runners around her.

“All throughout the race she was getting cheers and other runners were in awe, as was I,” Indra Leemrijse, Taylor’s mother, told Canadian Running after the race. “Runners were trying to stay with her to run their own personal best. She was truly an inspirational during the race.”

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The Toronto Women’s 5K and 10K, held at Sunnybrook Park on Saturday, is aimed at “creating opportunities for women to be healthy and active in an inspiring, fun, and friendly environment.” Taylor, though only nine, is quite an experienced runner with her first event being a one-mile fun run when she was three.

RELATED: See the full Toronto Women’s 5K and 10K race report from Saturday.

Two years ago, Taylor ran in the 5K of the Toronto Women’s Series in 28:24. The nine-year-old has also done non-competitive triathlons. She was the only runner aged 10 and under to run the 10K on Saturday on a sunny and warm morning in the Ontario capital.

Taylor Kennedy Leemrijse
Taylor in front of the start/finish line of the Toronto Women’s 10K. Photo: provided.

Saturday’s event at Sunnybrook Park featured 332 runners in the 10K and an additional 374 runners in the 5K. Sunnybrook Park is one of Toronto’s running hotspots and provides an ideal place to run whether you’re racing competitively or entering an event for the first time.

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Throughout the race, fans were cheering Taylor on as she was near the front of the pack and finished in the top-35. She averaged 5:02 per kilometre for the 10K on Saturday.

After the race, Taylor was able to get a photo with the 10K race winner, Lisa Bentley, who is one of Canada’s most accomplished Ironman triathletes. A medallist at the Ironman world championships, Bentley continues to run local road races in the Toronto area.

Taylor Kennedy
Photo: provided.

Taylor got a plaque for winning her age group as well as a finishers medal. Hopefully there is still room on the wall for more hardware to come in the future.