Marathon might not let young boy run again

A nine-year-old Charlottetown boy who ran in October's P.E.I. marathon may not be able to compete in next year's race.

A nine-year-old Charlottetown boy who ran in October's P.E.I. marathon may not be able to compete in next year's race because of his age.

The marathon committee is re-thinking letting Tyler Heggie compete in next year's race because he is so young.

Tyler Heggie might not be able to run in next year's marathon. (Karen Mair/CBC)

Tyler decided to run the marathon after trying out long-distance running this summer. He completed the race in just over four hours and 30 minutes.

"Every week I kind of built up, so I went two kilometres, four, and I eventually got up to that distance of the marathon," he said. "It was enjoyable."

"A month before the marathon, we let him do a 46K run, and he did cartwheels after it, so he still had lots of energy left over," said Tyler's father, Andrew Heggie. "It's something that nobody can ever take away from him."

"Whether they let him race again or not is up for question, but he did successfully do it and it was a timed event and a charted course, so they can't take it away no matter what they decide. Running a marathon is not going to be for every child, and it's up to the parents to monitor very closely what their children is capable of doing in every sport they do."

Andrew Heggie said the marathon committee told him they would be meeting over the next couple months to make their decision.

Myrtle Jenkins-Smith, the race coordinator says the P.E.I. Marathon has never had a reason to examine the policy before.  

"We have never imagined having a nine year old," she said. "Our chip timing company that's been with us for all eight years has never experienced that either, so we're looking at, now that we have it, is this policy working?"

Many Canadian marathons do limit participation to runners 18 years and older. Jamie Whynacht of Sport PEI thinks the Island marathon should do the same, as running such long distances can harm children.

"They can get themselves into issues of heat exhaustion. They really worry about stunting their growth or hurting their growth plates in the process of all the pounding it takes to do that distance," Whynacht said.

The marathon committee says it will spend the next few months looking at the research before making a decision.