Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.

Going the Distance

Running prodigy Mary Cain sets pace on track and in classroom

By Samantha Coffey | March 26 , 2013
Kid Reporter Samantha Coffey with 16-year-old running prodigy Mary Cain after the Wanamaker Mile at the 2013 Millrose Games. (Photo courtesy Samantha Coffey)
Kid Reporter Samantha Coffey with 16-year-old running prodigy Mary Cain after the Wanamaker Mile at the 2013 Millrose Games. (Photo courtesy Samantha Coffey)

It's February 16, shortly after 8:30 p.m. on a winter night in New York City. A cluster of world-renowned runners are on the track of The Armory, ready to compete in the Wanamaker Mile at the 2013 Millrose Games – the most famous indoor track and field meet in the country.

By the time the race is over, the biggest cheers are for Mary Cain, a slight, pony-tailed 16-year-old junior from Bronxville (N.Y.) High School — the fastest high school middle-distance runner in American history.

"I've always loved to run," Mary says. "I've always enjoyed the feeling of running fast. I also love racing, especially against competitors who can really push me."

Mary – who is also a straight-A student - crossed the finish line in 4 minutes, 28.25 seconds that night, breaking her own U.S. record. The previous record had been set more than 40 years earlier, in 1972. In early March, Mary, who owns U.S. records at three other distances, captured the women's mile at U.S. indoor championships in Albuquerque, N.M.

Cain's passion for running started in seventh grade. She made varsity and quickly emerged as a standout talent, winning state cross-country titles in 2011. Competing at 800 meters, she almost made the U.S. Olympic team for the London Games in 2012.

"Mary is a prodigy, a once-in-a-generation talent," says David Monti, the publisher of Race Results Weekly and a widely respected track and field expert. "It's hard to put a limit on how far or how fast she will go."

Despite training two hours a day and running up to 60 miles a week, Mary still manages to be near the top of her class academically. She believes the key is to stay organized and work hard – and to embrace every challenge.

Most of all, even with all the fame she has achieved, Mary wants to keep her passion for running alive. That is her advice for any young athlete.

"Whatever your sport, do it because you love it," she says.

You might think Mary would feel a lot of pressure because of the expectations people have of her. But she has learned to relax before races by thinking of the expectations as a compliment – and by appreciating all the support she gets from family and coaches.

Aside from running fast, Mary's greatest attribute may be her humility. She wants to keep improving. She doesn't consider herself special or better than anybody else.

The record-breaking teenager smiles.

"I'm just Mary," she says.


Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    The Watts History of Sports

    The Watts History of Sports

    by Mark Stewart


    •     Extensive statistics
    •     Ideas for further reference
    •     Index
    •     Perfect resource for reports


      $265.65 You save: 30%
      Hardcover Book Collection | Grades 5-8
      Add To Cart
      Educators Only
    The Watts History of Sports
    Grades 5-8 $265.65
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Slam Dunk!

    Slam Dunk!

    by Sharon Robinson

    Elijah "Jumper" Breeze is settling into his new home in Harlem--though it hasn't been easy since his father died and his mother moved them from the suburbs. Still, he made friends at summer camp and he's eager to see them at his new middle school. Jumper is looking forward to hitting the books and hitting the court for some serious b-ball. Then his best friend, Kelvin, talks him into running for student council and suddenly life gets a lot more complicated! He needs to out-poll Nia, his fiercest opponent in the student council race, and doesn't want to lose her friendship in the process.

    $4.49 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book | Grades 4-7
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Slam Dunk!
    Grades 4-7 $4.49
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy




Here's something interesting from