Good luck topping the day Layla Bail had on May 29.
The Olmsted Falls fourth-grader started the morning off by setting a blistering pace in the annual Olmsted Spirit 5K race, won a raffle prize and capped it off with ice cream.
Layla, 10, was the first female of any age to cross the finish line, reaching it in 22:07. She placed 16th overall out of 317 runners and shattered her own goal of finishing in under 25 minutes. She is the youngest female to ever take first in the event’s 25 years, even besting current high school junior Katie Clute, one of the state’s top high school distance runners, who did so as a 16-year-old last year.
“I didn’t know I was the first female to finish until a little bit after, when I was taking pictures with my friends,” Layla said. “I was really, really happy and surprised (when I found out). I didn’t think I could beat people a lot older than me.”
“I play a lot of sports and I knew I was fast, but I didn’t know I was that fast,” she said.
The 5K course started on the Olmsted Falls High School track and weaved northeast onto Bagley Road, followed by a left turn onto Fitch Road toward the Olmsted Township fire department. After trekking through the fire station, participants wound back onto Fitch and toward the high school where they started.
Soon after her impressive race performance, Layla turned a $1 raffle ticket into a brand new Mongoose mountain bike. The purple, pink and silver-colored ride was donated by the Olmsted Falls Kiwanis Club.
Later on that day, she rode it to Falls Ice Cream for a celebratory treat.
“We were actually going to go for ice cream anyway that day, so I guess if you’re finally going to win a raffle, that was a good one,” said Layla’s mother, Dana.
It was the type of day Dana could only describe as surreal. Watching Layla fare so well against so many adult runners, then upending a long family history of losing out on raffle drawings, made for an exciting experience. Layla’s father, Justin, raced with Layla and did his best to keep up.
“I was shocked,” said Dana, who serves as an assistant cross country and track and field coach at Olmsted Falls Middle School. “We thought she would do well, but that was just kind of wild. More than anything, it’s cool to see your kids proud of themselves, and she’s done work. She really wanted to race that, instead of just run it. It was cool to see her beaming with pride. And she was really supported by her friends.”
Along with Layla’s older brother Austin, 12, and sister Bella, 14, the Bails are a family of athletes with running backgrounds. Dana is a former sprinter who grew up in Colorado, while Justin ran cross country at Brunswick High School. Layla is a member of the Bulldogs On The Run club, which was created for third and fourth-grade girls in the district to promote running and to help train for 5K races, as well as inspire positive thinking.
Following in the footsteps of her siblings, Layla also spends her time playing lacrosse, basketball, soccer and swimming. She said she loves being around her friends and getting exercise, and hopes to continue playing whichever sports she can fit into her schedule once she reaches high school.
“I’ll play sports as much as I can,” said Layla, who loves soccer the most out of her many pursuits.
The Olmsted Spirit Race Series and Pancake Breakfast was created in 1998 to serve as a fun activity for residents and members of surrounding communities, and drew 411 participants this year. Throughout its history, the event has raised more than $250,000 in scholarship money for graduating OFHS seniors.
Avon Lake native and current Washington D.C. resident Chip Connolly finished first overall in 16:52.
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