10-year-old distancing herself from field

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2001

[02/28/01]Alex and Jackie Carrillo shake their heads and laugh when asked how long they can keep up with their daughter during a race.

“I used to be able to stay with her,” said Alex, an engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station. “Now, after about 100 yards, I’ve already lost her.”

Then again, pint-sized Ashley Carrillo leaves most everyone in the dust.

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At 4 feet and 59 pounds, she looks like she’d have a hard enough time beating a stiff breeze, not to mention fields of runners year in and year out.

She earned the Mississippi Sportswoman of the Year award in 2000, finished second overall among women runners at the River City Classic in Natchez three weeks ago, yet she doesn’t know algebra and is years away from driving a car.

Ashley Carrillo is a 10-year-old with sparkling eyes and a smile almost as wide as her margins of victory.

She will run on Saturday at her favorite course, the Vicksburg National Military Park, and unlike most of the runners, she wants to tackle the vaunted hills of the park.

“The hills usually help me catch up,” Ashley said. “It’s easy for me to get up the hills.”

Her parents have seen it firsthand. While they struggle on the hills, Ashley runs up and down several times seemingly with little effort.

For the most part, her father is designated photographer. He used to run with her, but now knows if he wants to see her cross the finish line, he better be waiting there.

It’s usually Ashley waiting at the finish line watching the rest of the field cross.

At the Amateur Athletic Union’s national meet in Joplin, Mo., Ashley took 35th overall against 160 of the top 10-year-old runners in the country.

She trained harder for that event more sprints and demanding training schedule but normally, she runs three to five times a week, usually in the park but sometimes on a makeshift track on the family’s land on Mississippi 18 between Raymond and Utica.

“My (twin) brother Justin tries to beat me,” Ashley said with a sly smile. “Sometimes I have to beg him to run because he doesn’t want to go outside.”

Her first Run Thru History was actually on wheels, in a stroller being pushed by her father.

In 1999, she won the 1-mile fun run after finishing the 5K walk to “stay with her parents.”

Last year, Carrillo finished first in her age group and 137th overall at 49 minutes. She hopes to be around 46 minutes for Saturday’s race.

“I think I’m most amazed at someone her age enjoying running do much,” Alex said. “There just aren’t a lot of kids that really enjoy running.”

Ashley started running early because she didn’t like other sports.

“I don’t like being hit with baseballs or being hit in the face with soccer balls,” she said with a smile. “Running is the only thing where you don’t get hurt.”

Unless on the rare occasion some bigger runner tries to outsize this dynamo and push her out of the way. It doesn’t happen often, but there have been times when she has been bumped out of the way.

“I usually let them go ahead of me,” she said. “One time I got tripped by a bigger guy.”

More often than not, though, it’s the bigger guys who are tripping over their words when they see where Ashley finished.

“There really aren’t a lot of women in front of me,” she said. “Some keep up.”