Twelve-year-old metro runner excelling against older competition

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- One runner from Blue Springs is finding victories usually reserved for more seasoned athletes. Don't let the fashion footwear fool you. Blue Springs native Audrey Smith might be 12 years old, but she can run with the grownups.

"I don't like being second place. It's not my thing," Smith said.

So far, Smith has managed to distance herself from the pack. At only 11 years old, she won the Broadway Bridge 5K Race in Kansas City. She finished third overall in the recent Trolley Run 5K with a personal best time of 19:43.

Smith has already run in at least 300 races, having jumped off to a start at age 5.

"I love how it feels to run," Smith said. "You do feel free when you run, unless someone's chasing you."

Brian Unruh is the girl's head track coach at Blue Springs South, and has coached Audrey during his summer camps.

"There's age and then there's running age," Unruh explained. "She's older when it comes to running. She's really experienced and knows how to handle herself."

Dick Ross operates a website called See KC Run, which specializes in coverage of local 5K and 10 K races, and has watched Audrey grow as a runner, both in community races, and at the AAU level.

"When I first saw her run, I thought maybe she was too young," Ross said. "She has a discipline. She's goal oriented. Lots of kids could use that."

Audrey swears by the 1500m, but her mom says her best event is really the 3000m. That's the event she was expected to win at last year's AAU Nationals until a bike accident left her unable to perform.

"I just try to go as fast as possible at the beginning and worry about the time later," Smith said.

Older runners take note. There's a young contender nipping at your heels.

Audrey's next race will be on Saturday, May 10th. She'll be one of hundreds who turn out for the annual Truman Run in Independence.

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