Meet Haley Hooper, an energetic, athletic 11-year-old student at Lovett, who’s turned a casual liking for 5Ks and their help in training for other sports into a serious collection of medals, ribbons and trophies.
On April 21, she won a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) Fun Run at Lovett, followed up by winning the Girls on the Run 5K April 28, was the third woman overall and first non-adult female at the 30th annual Pace Race 5K May 5 and finally the 11 to 14 age group winner at the Mama Bear 5K at Peachtree Presbyterian Church May 26.
She’s done 19 5Ks since picking up running more than two years ago and has placed first 10 times.
“I like winning,” she said. “I’ve never not come in first or second in my age group.”
But it’s not like Haley’s a running fanatic.
The 5Ks, her mother, Christy Hooper, said, are her training. Haley prefers other sports, especially lacrosse, which she plays year-round, as well as soccer, tennis and swimming. Running provides conditioning workouts for her other activities.
“In lacrosse, we do lots of agility [work], and you have to run fast,” Haley said. “It just builds up in all the different sports I do.”
At this rate, she may want to consider cross country in the future, too. She set a personal best of 23 minutes, 12 seconds at the Girls on the Run 5K in Buckhead, an average mile time of 7:29. That was No. 1 out of nearly 1,800 runners who participated in the Buckhead race.
Not bad for someone who won’t be driving alone until 2016.
“I used to be faster than her and now she beats me by two minutes,” her mother said, laughing. “I would wait and jog with her when she was 9. Now it’s, ‘Bye, see you at the finish line.’”
Haley’s putting her running abilities to other good use. For three years, she’s organized the Kingswood Fun Run out of her Buckhead neighborhood, and all proceeds from the race go to the Atlanta Humane Society.