Oh, brothers - Coeur d'Alene Press: Fit For Life

Oh, brothers

Andersons run for fun, but they're fast, too

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Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Little Caroline Anderson is 7 months old, and already, she's crawling and scooting around the house.

It won't be long before she's walking, but then, she might just skip straight to running.

"It wouldn't surprise me," said dad Brian Anderson, laughing. "She seems to do everything before the boys did."

Running runs in the family.

Caroline's older brothers, four of them, are in the run for fun program at Holy Family Catholic School.

But Sam, 11, and Max, 9, aren't just running for fun, though. They're fast, finishing among with the best of their divisions, from local races to Junior Olympics.

They were out there Monday, charging around the perimeter of the quarter-mile grass field in their Sauconys, clicking off laps, steadily moving, rarely slowing, passing others.

And Zachary, 6, isn't far behind, already with Junior Olympics aspirations, and then there's 3-year-old August. He's all smiles as he trots in wearing dark blue sweat pants and shirt, holding up his blue card to have it marked by volunteers, indicating he has recorded another lap.

"Keep it up big guy," dad Brian shouts to August. "Go get 'em, buddy."

With a wave, the blond boy does.

Across the field, Sam looks smooth and strong, a steady stride eating up ground. Max follows, wearing the same yellow shirt as his older brother that reads "iRun." Somewhere in the mix is Zachary in a white and red shirt with the words, "Run Strong."

Brian watches with parental pride, then admits he doesn't really know where his sons found their passion and talent for running.

"It's a surprise, honestly," he says. "We're not doing anything special, that's for sure."

Sam was fourth in the nation last year at 3K in the Junior Olympics. Max was 10th in the sub-bantams last year, and moved up to bantams this year, placing 25th. Both are in Holy Family's competitive cross country program. In the recent 3-mile Leprechaun Scurry in Coeur d'Alene, Sam was 10th overall in 19 minutes, 55 seconds,, while Max was 21st in 22:11. They finished 1-2 in the 0-12 age group. Dad finished in 23:54.

He and wife Jodi support their sons, but they don't push them. Sam and Max play Sting soccer, and are best friends, says mom. All four do the typical boys stuff - roughhouse, run, have friends over.

"We're trying not to push each one," he said.

Jodi Anderson, too, said she's not much of a runner.

"I'm inspired by their running. I don't think I could do what they do," she said.

There's no super food for the boys. No early to bed, early to rise routine.

"I wish they went to bed early. They don't," Jodi said, laughing. "They're readers. They'll stay up as late as we'll let them."

Like husband Brian, she doesn't push her kids to run.

"They've been really self motivated, which is great," she said.

Their motivation includes giving it their all, each time out. Second place is not where they want to be.

"They have this determination," Brian said.

It was Sam who expressed interest in the Presidential Fitness test when he was in first or second grade, Brian said, and clocked a 7:10 mile.

"We thought, 'Wow, that's pretty quick,'" Brian said.

He hasn't slowed down.

Monday, in the one-hour after-school fun run, he covered around 6 miles. Dad didn't see Sam becoming the runner he is today.

"Sam played T-Ball. He's the only kid I've ever seen thrown out in T-Ball," Brian said, grinning. "He couldn't run. He just couldn't do it. He looked like Pig Pen, a cloud of dust and they'd throw him out."

Not so any longer.

While many kids can keep up with Sam for a mile or so, he soon pulls farther and farther ahead.

"He just gets stronger. He keeps going," Brian said.

Hope Smith, coach of Holy Family's cross country team, said Sam and Max have a kind of talent that can't be taught.

"They are completely self-driven and tenacious. They don't stop. They're totally focused, self-discipline. They basically lead our team. They're amazing runners."

About 80 students, grades pre-k through fifth are in the program.

The Andersons tend to stand out.

"Everyone is like, 'Who are those kids?'" she said.

"Physically, they're just natural born athletes, the entire family, it seems like."

Sam tends to be all business, a runner of few words.

"He's pretty focused," dad says.

Sam offers short answers to questions about his running.

"Fine."

"Not really."

"Because it's fun."

Repeat the same questions to Max and the conversation flows even as he zips along at a solid clip.

Do you ever slow down?

"Sometimes when I'm getting really tired, I slow it down a little bit."

What is it about running you enjoy?

"It's really a good sport, exciting."

What about when it hurts in a race?

"I try and push through it because I know it's only one race. It feels really good after you're done."

Will you ever walk?

"During a race? Never."

What about when you get tired?

"I drink water."

Zachary, walking with friends, says simply of running: "It's really fun. I like ... I guess that's it."

Brian Anderson says it's up to his sons, and his daughter, on how far they'll go with running.

"I think if they decide this is the sport they want to do, they could go someplace."

They'll get there fast, too.

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