Running the distance – 11 year runner inspires family
Why young runner excels and motivates his entire family to compete
Before it was canceled, Jonathan was one of more than 8,000 kids scheduled to compete in the Cook Children's 5K on Feb. 28. The race didn't happen, but we hope you enjoy the story of this young, inspiring runner.
Jonathan Barron began running because he wanted to be like his older brother and his dad. Now maybe it's the other way around.
Jonathan has set an example for his entire family. At 11 years old, Jonathan was scheduled to compete in his fourth Cowtown, the Cook Children's 5K, event before it was canceld. And while he had hoped to place in the top three against more than 8,000 other kids, Jonathan's mom said her son has already motivated the family to achieve more goals than they ever could have ever expected.
Jonathan, his two brothers -- Elijah, 13, and Matthew, 10, -- and their dad, Juan, all run. This weekend’s race will be Jonathan’s sixteenth 5K in five years. Elijah has run in six Cowtown 5Ks and 18 total in eight years and Matthew was scheduled to run in his first Cowtown and third race since October of last year.
Juan has been inspired by his sons to run and in the process lose about 60 pounds in the past six years. He’s managed to keep the weight off by training and was going to run his first half marathon at Cowtown.
And while the family all competes at some level, it's Jonathan who has excelled the most with the most raw, natural ability. Lorena Barron, Jonathan’s mom, credits his first grade teacher, Mrs. Gaylene Chrystie, and his running coach, Cindy Rau, both at Burton Hill Elementary School in Fort Worth, for helping to motivate him to work hard.
"Jonathan liked running from the beginning," Lorena Barron, Jonathan's mom, said. "He was very good and competitive right away. So when Jonathan first started, he didn't have to try as hard. His teachers explained to be good in sports, you have to be good in school. You need to try hard in everything you do, including in the classroom. If he wanted to continue running as he got older or even someday compete in college, he would have to make good grades."
Jonathan listened. He became more focused in school and his grades improved. He became driven. Even at such an early age, Jonathan has learned to set goals for himself and work hard to achieve them, thanks to what he's learned from running. Jonathan ran the Cowtown 10k last year, the longest he had run at the time. He won his division and overcame the pain he felt from the longer distance.
"Running makes me feel happy," Jonathan said. "I liked being competitive. I like when I win, but even when I haven't won, I feel good if I know I've run my best. When I ran my first 10K, it was way harder. My legs hurt after the fifth mile. That was the longest I'd ever run. But I felt really good after it was over because I finished it."
Since he began running, Jonathan has changed in many ways from being more confident to being fit. He drinks water instead of soda now and orders grilled chicken and salad over burgers and fries. But he's not the only one who's seen the benefits of running.
"Running has helped the whole family," Lorena said. "When Elijah started running, Jonathan and my husband wanted to train with him. Being as overweight as Juan was, it wasn't very easy on him. But he kept going and now he's just as healthy as my sons. I don't run, but I walk with them. We all try to eat healthy and take care of ourselves. Running has helped to make our whole family healthier."