13-year-old girl from Las Vegas takes on brutal marathon for charity

An 8th grader from Las Vegas is preparing to run one of the most brutal marathons in the country - and she's doing it for a good cause.

Olive Cecchi plans on running the Leadville Marathon in Leadville, Colorado on June 16. The race starts at an elevation over 10,000 feet and gains 6,333 vertical feet over 26.2 miles.

The air is thinner at high elevations, which means that the human body needs to work harder to get the oxygen it needs to function the way it does at sea level. grueling 

At 13 years old, Olive will be the second youngest girl to ever complete the Leadville Marathon once she crosses the finish line, missing the World Record for the youngest female by only six months.

Olive fell in love with running when she was in 6th grade after she joined her school's cross country team. She says she enjoys the sport because it allows her to challenge herself, and provides a sense of accomplishment after she finishes a race.

"I also love running in Red Rock and being able to run near the beautiful landscapes and mountains," she says.

Most of Olive's training has been in the Red Rock loop with her runs ranging from 12 to 15 miles. She's also made a point to train on Mt. Charleston at an elevation of 11,916 feet.

"I went to the top of Mt Charleston for the first time two weeks ago and had a really tough patch toward the top," Olive says. "It was mentally the most difficult moment of my training, but I’m heading back this weekend, and I think I'll do better having done it before." 

Olive won't be alone as she takes on the Leadville Marathon. Joining her will be her father, Ed, along with her coach Reinier Geyser. Her father is an experienced runner and Reinier ran a 100-mile race in Leadville back in 2014.

Previously, Olive finished first in the 12-14 division at the Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon back in December. She also used her platform as a competitor to raise over $1,500 for victims of the 1 October shooting.  

Olive wants to continue to raise money for worthy causes. So for her next race, she plans on donating $6,333 - one dollar for every vertical foot she will climb during the Leadville Marathon - to support scholarships for Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run is an afterschool youth development program that aims to build confidence and healthy habits among young girls. The Las Vegas council served 540 girls in 3rd-8th grades on 41 teams across the valley this past spring.

So far, Olive has raised over $3,000 for the program. You can find her donation page here.

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