His parents can’t keep up with him. Not many can.
Chris Ahlers of Sterling, who turned 14 in May, is not only one of the best young runners in the area. He’s among the best in the country.
Ahlers will compete in the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Games in Ypsilanti, Mich., July 26-Aug. 3.
Ahlers qualified for nationals after winning the 800-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter races at a qualifying meet in Rockford.
His mother, Tracy, found out a few years ago she had a special talent on her hands.
“The first time we went for a run, I’d been running regularly and he was in seventh grade,” Tracy said. “He was running really fast, and I was thinking, ‘He’s an inexperienced runner, and he’s going to poop out.’
“But, he just kept running fast. Finally, I said, ‘Go this way and I’ll see you at home.’ I said, ‘You’re going to have to run with your dad,’ but he couldn’t keep up either.”
The soon-to-be Newman High School freshman has a former art teacher to thank for his introduction to running. Jim Duis convinced Ahlers to take up running and coached him at St. Mary’s School.
Since, it’s been a rapid rise to greatness for Ahlers, who won the Class A eighth-grade state titles in the 800 and 1,600 this past track season. In the mile, his time was 4 minutes and 45 seconds, and in the 800 he finished in 2:08.
Ahlers, who someday plans to compete in an Ironman Triathlon, is a bit of a training junkie. An Ironman Triathlon encompasses a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and the standard 26.2-mile marathon.
“I run 6 days a week year-round, except for taking a month off in November and December,” he said. “I’ll do up to 8 miles, but I also focus on speed intervals a few days a week.
“More than running, I like fitness a lot. I don’t like the feeling of stopping and knowing that I’m getting out of shape by the minute.”
His training also includes a fairly strict diet, though he does have his weaknesses.
“I make sure I eat healthy things, like carbs and proteins,” said Ahlers, who has also been in school plays and plans to continue that at Newman. “But, I wouldn’t say that I’m as good as I should be, because I do have some junk food. I like Oreos a lot, and sometimes my mom gets pie at the store.”
How far will running take him?
“I’m hoping by my senior year I can win another state title, and I’d like to get a scholarship for running to college,” he said. “I really like Oregon and LSU. It would be really exciting to go to a place like that.”
(Ahler’s winning times at national qualifier)
800 meters: 2:08.78