Hitting the ground running: Boise High runner eyes top 10 finish at Robie Creek

Jackson Brill, 15, finished 11th overall at last year's Race to Robie Creek

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comApril 17, 2014 

  • 37TH ANNUAL RACE TO ROBIE CREEK

    Start: Noon, Saturday, Fort Boise

    Finish: Robie Creek Campground

    The course: 13.1 miles, including a climb of 2,000 feet over Aldape Summit in the first eight miles, and a decline of nearly 1,700 feet in the last five.

    Spectators: They can watch the start of the race at Fort Boise, where nearly 2,400 runners and walkers will take off after pre-race festivities. Spectator passes for the finish are sold out, and there is no parking available at the finish.

    Roads: Shaw Mountain Road will be closed for approximately half an hour Saturday, from just before noon to about 12:30 p.m., with rolling openings as runners pass.

    Race theme: Killer Queen. Robie committee member Brian Rencher said music of the band Queen will be prominent at the start and the finish.

    Weather: The forecast calls for mostly sunny conditions, with late-afternoon highs in the mid-70s. There is a 10 percent chance of rain, with slight winds.

    Coming Sunday in the Statesman: Race-day photos and names and times of race finishers.

Jackson Brill is barely old enough to drive himself to the Race to Robie Creek starting line, but he's ready to improve on last year's finish and move into the top 10.

Brill finished the 2013 half marathon in 1 hour, 28 minutes, 26.4 seconds, and finished 10th among all men. He was 14 years old.

"The aftermath was so much fun," Brill said. "To run that well was exciting, and a few people came up to me and said, 'You're going to be good when you grow up.' I'm really happy with what happened last year, but I think I'll keep getting faster."

If Brill isn't good now, look out.

The Boise High sophomore - who ran on the Braves' 5A state cross country team last fall - has run more than a dozen half-marathons, continuing a love of distance running that began when he ran his first 5k at age 7.

"It was always just for fun, my dad never pushed me to do it or anything, I just learned to enjoy it," Brill said. "Eventually I'd pass him about halfway through those 5ks."

This spring, Brill is competing as a distance runner on the Boise track team, focusing on the 3,200 meters. He ran a district qualifying time last week, in this, his first season running track.

One of the high school's track and field coaches is Cori Mooney, a seven-time Robie champion who owns the women's course record of 1:23:52.

"He's got a lot of potential," Mooney said. "What he did at Robie is impressive, but he's new at track. You can see him getting better each week."

A goal is in mind for Brill, inspired by his coach - he hopes to break Mooney's best mark Saturday, which compared to last year's times, would put him in the top three overall.

"I told her, 'I'm going after you,' " Brill said. "I think it's realistic. But if I get 1:24 or something, I'm going to be ecstatic because that's a great time."

Brill praised Boise's coaches for allowing him to run track and Robie. He estimates he's been running between 50-60 miles a week the past two months between track practice during the week and long trail runs on weekends. After Saturday, he will focus solely on track the rest of the season. Mooney hopes he learns "that it's just as fun to run four laps fast as it is to do 13 miles."

"We've seen his leg speed increase a lot," Mooney said. "He has a rare ability as a high schooler just to go out there by himself and push himself to run harder. I hope he beats my mark and is satisfied, then he can focus on track and wait to do Robie again until he's out of high school."

Brill feels confident heading into Saturday's race after his early track experience, feeling he's a bit faster. He says he still prefers the changing elevation and landscapes of road races like Robie, but is growing more fond of track.

"I used to say I didn't like track because all you do is make left turns, and now I'm making a bunch of them, but it's been great building speed on top of what I think is a good endurance base," Brill said.

Though he may be focusing more on track in the near future, Brill said down the road he may try his hand at marathons, but added, "It's not a good idea for a growing kid."

For this weekend, at least, the 15-year-old kid will be as big a challenge as any man running the daunting Robie course.

"I want to run and compete for decades to come," Brill said.

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