E mily Paupore is 5-years-old. She has her hair in a half ponytail and her wispy bangs are brushing the tops of her wide brown eyes. It’s her first official race, and the tiny girl, clad in a grey sweatshirt with “Runner 43” stapled to its front pocket is about to win.
Winning is something she will do a lot in the future. Her first-place ribbon will become one of many, and the picture her mom captured of Paupore standing on the awards podium will be commonplace as Paupore begins her rise as a track and cross country star.
For now, it is simply a fun moment, marked by comedic effect. The race was for kids 12 and under, so when Paupore stands on the elevated first-place podium, looking a little shy and unsure, the 5-year-old is just as tall as the second-place finisher, despite the added height of the podium.
It’s an image that still makes her parents laugh, and on that day that’s all it was — a silly photo. But now, it seems like foreshadowing. Paupore was beating 12-year-olds when she was 5, and now, as a high-school junior, she’s beating everyone. And she’s beating them by a lot.