12-Year-Old 'Accidentally' Completes A Half Marathon

by Valerie Williams

Imagine your 12-year-old just completed a half-marathon. Not only completed it, but kind of crushed it. Wouldn’t you be proud and want to shout their accomplishment from the rooftops of every tall building? Of course. Now imagine you had no idea they were doing it and couldn’t find them for over two hours.

Not so shouty and cheery now, right?

According to Buzzfeed, 12-year-old LeeAdianez Rodríguez was running late for the 5K race she intended to run. Her mom, Brendalee Espada, explained that her daughter had trained for months and wasn’t about to miss it. Rodríguez, a sixth grader student, liked to draw, dance and listen to music. But one day, she told her mom she wanted to try something new.

“I want to do something athletic,” she told her mom. And running was her sport of choice.

To that end, she spent two months training for the 5K race, part of the Rochester Regional Health Flower City Challenge, which also included a half marathon. For those of you who don’t know, a 5K amounts to approximately 3.1 miles. A half marathon is a shade over 13. A pretty sizable difference, clearly.

When Rodríguez arrived to her long-awaited race late, a staffer said to just go ahead and join the 5K. So she did.

But, she didn’t.

Somehow, LeeAdianez ended up at the starting line for the half marathon instead. And she unknowingly went with it. After four miles, she felt like things were moving pretty slow. She asked a fellow runner how many miles the race was and the runner told her “Oh, this is the 13.1 miles.”


Meanwhile, Espada was at the 5K finish line waiting to see her daughter cross it. Unknown to her, Rodríguez was indeed running the race she was in, even though it would take a full two hours longer than the 5K she had planned on. So while her mother panicked, this kid was straight killing a half marathon, of which she’d only trained to run about a quarter of.

As it turned out, a race spectator and even a police officer told Rodríguez during the race that her family was looking for her, but she insisted on finishing.

After two of what must have been the most terrifying hours of her life, Espada was reunited with her daughter at the half marathon finish line. Brendalee says after crying tears of relief, she was only proud of her daughter for accomplishing so much more than she set out to do. Her finish time of two hours and 43 minutes is quite incredible for a novice runner who hadn’t trained for the occasion. Even though she probably took 10 years off her mother’s life, she should absolutely be proud of herself.

As parents, we probably all find her determination equal parts commendable and infuriating. I’ve run races myself and that feeling at the end when you cross the finish line is amazing — but not so amazing it’s worth giving your mother a minor heart attack. This is one fantastic and brave kid, but if her mother spent a few days pissed off, I wouldn’t blame her. Even one minute in a department store wondering where my son went was enough to give me gray hair. As incredible as Rodriquez is for having such fire in her, it’s understandable if her mom was as furious as she was proud.

Most of us have probably “accidentally” drank a whole bottle of wine. This is pretty much the most impressive “accidental” thing that’s ever happened and we will never be this cool. She deserves praise just as much as a good finger wagging.

In the end, this kid found something she’s good at that could turn into a lifelong passion. Her mother is supportive and that’s a wonderful thing. And if nothing else, they now have a great story to tell.

Regardless, congrats to LeeAdianez for her amazing accomplishment! Even as I clutch my pearls on behalf of her mom, it’s truly something to be proud of.