Coarsegold Elementary School seventh grader Justin Beaumont, 12, who has participated in the Smokey Bear Run at Bass Lake every year since the age of one, spent a lot of time this summer running ... and running ... and running.
His journey started in late April when he won the 800 meter race at the Mountain Area Track Meet at Yosemite High School in 2:42. He also won the 200 (:28) and the 400 (1:08), and was a member of the school’s winning 1600 meter relay team along with Thomas Baker, Robbie English and Rev Alberta. The 5-foot-3 was just warming up.
He then advanced to the Valley Youth Championship Track Meet at Buchanan High School in Clovis in early May, placing second in the 800 with a time of 2:26, 16 seconds faster than his previous race.
Beaumont wasn’t the only one to do well at the Valley Championship Meet. Coarsegold 9-10 year-old-boys placed fifth in the 1600 meter relay with a time of 5:07. The relay team consisted of Robby Gresham, AJ Ruiz, Jackson Kissee, and Noah Graffigna, and was the first Mountain Area relay team to medal at the meet in many years.
Beaumont was congratulated for his effort and thought he was done running for the year - until his mother, Oakhurst attorney Nanette Beaumont, 43, checked times on the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) website and realized her son’s time at the Valley meet qualified him for AAU Junior Olympics California Regional Qualifier meet in mid-June at Oakdale High School.
His time of 2:30 qualified him for the National Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas, and the West Coast Junior Olympics in Lynwood in mid-July - with one condition. It was mandatory that for Justin to advance to the next level, he would need a “certificated” coach.
No problem - mom, Oakhurst attorney Nanette Beaumont, who won her age division last year and the overall women’s two-mile race in 2013 and 2014 at the annual Smokey Bear Run at Bass Lake - took an online course, passed the test, and became her son’s AAU certified coach.
More practice ... and more running and then runner and coach were off to Lynwood, where on July 17, Justin placed second in the 800 with a time of 2:28.
That finish, along with his July 19 first place in the 800 at the Fresno Pacific University Run for the Dream meet, helped Justin prepare for the Aug. 3 National Junior Olympics meet in Houston. Again running the 800 in 2:28, he placed third in his heat. He had the best time of the five California boys running in the event. His time ranked him No. 36 in the nation out of 91 runners in the 12-year-old boys 800 meters.
“I like running because it makes me feel free,” Justin said. “I did my best but running in the hot Texas heat was really tiring. It helped me to know family and friends were supporting me and watching the race live back home on the AAU website.”