MIDDLETOWN – Township resident Caitlin O’Hare is growing accustomed to the big stage.
Caitlin, who runs for RTC Training, won the 13- and 14-year-old division 3,000-meter national championship race on March 8 at the USA Track and Field (USATF) National Indoor Championships in Landover, Md., in a meet record 10:29. That’s a pace of 5:31 per mile.
After sitting in second place for the first mile of the race, Caitlin used her trademark kick and finished 22 seconds ahead of her closest competitor.
Caitlin, an eighth-grader at St. Mary’s in Middletown who plays soccer for PDA, is relatively new to the state and national racing scene. After finishing her school cross-country season undefeated in 2013, she took her talents to the state and regional level by qualifying for the USATF Cross Country National Meet in Texas in December. After finishing 26th overall – one spot out of All American status – she was determined to work hard and put her best foot forward at indoor nationals.
USATF is the national governing body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. The USATF encompasses the world’s oldest organized sports, the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the No. 1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.
“Going into cross-country nationals I was not sure what to expect because I never competed against the best in my age group from across the United States,” Caitlin said. “But, when I got to indoor nationals, I felt more relaxed and comfortable and was more mentally prepared to run fast.”
For most runners the accomplishment would have been enough for the weekend, but Caitlin came back to the track the next day, finishing third overall in the 1,500 with a personal best of 4:58.
“I really enjoy racing and wanted to see how well I could finish in the 1,500 after winning the 3,000 the previous day,” she said. “After indoor nationals, I am now really excited to see what I can do during outdoor track season.”
One of Caitlin’s training partners, Jane Mallach of Rumson, finished sixth overall in the 11- and 12-year-old division in the 3,000 meters with a personal best 11:37. As a result, RTC Training finished the weekend with three individual All Americans and a national champion.
Those who want to watch Caitlin’s gold medal performance in the 3,000 meters can visit www.USATF.tv.
She will be attending Red Bank Catholic in the fall.
Robert Cavanaugh is a local elite runner and owner of RTC Training, which offers running programs for kids
and adults of all ages and abilities.