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Young Runner Strides to Forefront

In a little more than a year of competitive running, 13-year-old Alex Ostberg, who competes for the Wilton Running Club , has burst on to the scene as one of most precocious young talents to come out of Lower Fairfield County.

Alex, an eighth-grader at Middlesex Middle School in Darien, started running competitively in the summer of 2009. His father, Peter, was training for the Hartford Marathon and Alex asked to join. While Peter ran the marathon last October, Alex blazed through the 13.1-mile half marathon in 1:22:23. That's an average speed of 6:13 per mile. He finished 34th in a field of more than 1,000 runners.

"Sometimes I do feel a little bit strange running with all these adults,'' Alex said at last week's Wilton Invitational, where he blazed to victory in the middle school race. He covered the 1.5 mile-course in a personal best 7:59.

"It's kind of a strange feeling, and I feel a little awkward. I'm getting used to it a little more,'' said Alex.

Alex looked comfortable running with adults in two races this year in the area. In the Minuteman 5K in Westport in May, Alex finished third in 18:08. In the 10K Darien Road Race last month, he finished second in 36:08. He'll run the half marathon in Hartford again Saturday while his father runs the marathon. "I think a 10K might be my best distance,'' Alex says. "A 5K is a little bit short me. "

His short-term goal is to return to the U.S. Junior Olympics in December. He won state and regional competitions last fall, and took 17th in nationals. Alex will advance to a higher age group this year and expects harder competition.

He has a great reason for choosing running over one the more popular team sports such as football or soccer or baseball. "It makes me feel really good,'' Alex says. "I feel really proud of myself when I have a good workout."

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