iStock/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) — A 12-year-old Rochester, New York girl accidentally entered a half-marathon race that spanned 13 miles — and finished.
LeeAdianez Rodriguez-Espada was running late for the Rochester Regional Health Flower City Challenge on April 24. She went to the starting line and began to run, thinking she had arrived just in the nick of time to start a 5-kilometer, or 3.1 mile, race – the one she actually trained for over the last two months.
After realizing the race was going on longer than she expected, mile after mile, LeeAndianez asked a fellow runner what was going on. That’s when she understood that she was running in the wrong race.
“She decided, ‘You know what, I’m in already,'” her mom, Brendalee Espada, told ABC News. “‘I’m going to finish it.'”
But when Espada did not see her daughter at the finish line of the 5K race, she was in sheer panic. LeeAdianez ran her first 5K last year in 40 to 50 minutes, so Espada was expecting her in about the same time. When an hour came and went, then an hour and 45 minutes, without any sign of her, fear set in.
Some people suggested to Espada that a young runner probably hadn’t yet crossed the finish line.
“I said, ‘No, something is wrong, my daughter is not in the 5K.'” She frantically asked the race timekeepers and some of LeeAdianez’ friends to help her find the girl. No one said they had seen her.
“I started crying,” Espada said. “I got scared. I got confused.”
The police were notified and the search began for LeeAdianez. But all along, she was there, trying to keep pace with the other runners of the half marathon, most of whom were adults who were experienced runners and had trained extensively.
“I was crying all over,” Espada said. “It was really scary.”
When the sixth grader was spotted, she decided she had come too far to stop. She wanted to finish the race. When she reached the finish line, her mom was there — eager, scared and proud to see her daughter.
“I ran to her and hugged her, and I was crying and she was like, ‘Mommy, are you okay?'” Espada said. “It’s a miracle that she was able to finish it.”
LeeAdianez crossed the finish line of the Rochester Regional Health Flower City Challenge half-marathon in two hours and 43 minutes. She received a medal for her participation.
“I am amazed that she was able to finish without proper training,” Espada added. “I was in shock. I was surprised.”
Espada said she and LeeAdianez have both signed up for a 5K, not a half-marathon, in May.
“I am running with her and I told her she will have to keep up with me because I am out of shape,” Espada laughed.
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