Jake Mackleer has made a habit out of saying “yes.”
Jake is only 9 years old but has already competed in triathlons, 5K road races and half marathon trail races.
In late September, Jake and his father, John, ran in the XTERRA Trail Run National Championships in Ogden, Utah. The Hampstead natives finished the 21K course (13.02 miles) in 3 hours, 17 minutes, with Jake crossing the finish line nine seconds before his father.
“I love the trail races because you get to up and down hills and explore nature,” Jake said.
The race had no qualification standards, so Jake and John simply registered. Jake was the youngest person to participate, and therefore was the only person in the 1 to 9 age group, which technically makes him a national champion.
John is a triathlete and Jake, who’s been running shorter races for a few years, decided he wanted to try a trail run. John looked up different events, and Jake ended up doing trail runs in Davidson and Charlotte in the past year.
“He’s one of those kids that just does not get tired,” John Mackleer said. “He’s the kind of kid who will finish 13 miles and want to go rock climbing.”
It has not mattered what’s been suggested for Jake to do. He’s dabbled in short runs, long runs and triathlons. At 7 years old, Jake was doing triathlons that included swimming one length of a pool, biking two miles and running a half mile. For health reasons, John will likely put a limit on how far Jake will be able to run while he is still as young. But Jake has already run a half-marathon before turning 10.
“He’s trying to make me get outside and get active so I have a healthy life,” Jake said, adding that his dad was a big reason he wants to do so many races.
Jake will compete in any event he can get into. He likes trail runs because of hills and nature but appreciates the shorter runs for being easier. John started running and mountain biking a few years ago as a way to lose weight. He ran right behind Jake in Utah to make sure his son was safe but also so they could take in some of the mountains and scenery together. Running – however long the distances might be – has been a way for father and son to bond.
“You gotta let your kids get out and run a little bit,” John said. “It’s great just to get out there and have fun with your kid. We both enjoy it.”