9-year-old preparing for 4th Mini-Marathon

Gavin Thornberry has been training for Saturday's OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon for months.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - One of the great things about the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon is the diverse group of runners and walkers it has attracted over the years.

That includes participants from all 50 states, dozens of countries, and all ages. This year, 9-year-old Gavin Thornberry is planning to take part in his fourth Mini Marathon. When you do the math, that means he took part in his first half-marathon at the age of 6.

He mostly walked that one, but he made it all the way. Gavin got his start in the Rookie Run and he was hooked.

"I like seeing all of the people along the sides, cheering on the runners," he said.

Gavin is not the kind of kid who likes to sit still. His room is filled with dozens of trophies from karate competitions and medals from races that he has completed in the last few years. The memorabilia extends to his closet, where race bib numbers cover the wall.

His mother Denise says she never has to twist his arm to get him out to train.

"No, not him," she laughed. "I think when I first felt him kick in the womb and I don't think he's stopped moving since then, so he's very active."

Gavin's activity includes a commitment to karate, and training runs at least two nights a week and both weekend days. He likes getting out of the house, spending time with his mom, and it also keeps him off the Xbox. He also likes the idea of being a role model for other 9-year-olds. He encourages other kids his age to start pounding the pavement, too.

"Because it makes you stay fit and makes you able to do more, rather than just run the first mile and say, 'Ooohh, my feet hurt'," he said.

He says his feet may start hurting a few miles into the race, but he's ready for the long haul. He's been training for six months for the 2017 Mini and he has all the support he needs from his parents and family to finish the race.

Click here to learn more about the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.