She stands about 4-feet, 8-inches, weighs all of 72 pounds, and she reminds you of your best friend’s kid sister, always hanging around and trying to take part in whatever you and your friends do.
But while Chloe Hanson might be looked at by most of the Saugerties varsity track team as their little sister, this 13-year-old seventh grader is also the second fastest girls’ long distance runner on the team, just a few steps behind senior Shannon Averill.
Running is in Hanson’s genes. Her dad, Bill, is the modified team track coach, helps out with the varsity team, and coaches the modified cross country team.
Her mom, Joanna Driscoll, a teacher in the Beacon school system, is also a runner, and says of her daughter, “she’s been running since she could walk. She ran everywhere. We’d look away and she’d be gone running around.”
The family realized their only child might just have some talent when she entered the Cahill Classic as a fifth grader and did well. From there it was on to a number of other events, which she either won or finished near the top against a field of mostly older kids and adults. Next, she attended a Nike-sponsored camp for elite runners where she picked up a few pointers.
“I’ve always loved running and I knew that I could beat the other kids,” Chloe said. “My parents pushed me somewhat, telling me that the type of talent I have shouldn’t be wasted.”
Last fall, when Chloe entered the seventh grade and could step up and start running regularly against older kids, she started to win everything she entered as a member of the high school’s modified cross country team.
“The varsity track coaches came to me and asked me to come run distance events for the team this spring, and I said, sure,” the self-confident teen said.
And how is she doing this spring? “I’m winning some and doing well in others,” she said.
When Chloe’s seventh grade math teacher Mike Story learned his student would be running varsity track this spring, he told her to contact Shannon Averill.
“She’s been my mentor and friend, and looked out for me,” Chloe said of Averill.
Averill says Chloe is just like a little sister to her, a very talented little sister.
“I really love mentoring her,” said Averill, who will attend Monmouth University in the fall to run track.
“She is just so dedicated and works so hard,” Averill added.
When Chloe began running for the varsity team there was some concern that her older and bigger opponents would overwhelm her.
“The older kids see me as little, but I take advantage of my size and when they try to box me in on the track I’m able to run in and around them,” Chloe said with a smile.
And while running may be her favorite thing to do, Hanson also has a life away from the track. “I love to read and write,” she says. “But I have this dark side. I like reading and writing creepy stories.”
That dark side sometimes comes out on the track during competitions — A dark side that includes stalking and breaking her opponents down psychologically.
This dark side was evident in a 3000-meters event against New Paltz. Hanson and two older runners from New Paltz were the class of the field, quickly pulling away from the pack.
Hanson moved herself between the two New Paltz girls into second place and began to push the lead runner into setting a fast pace — so fast that the second New Paltz runner quickly fell well behind the front two.
For lap after lap, Hanson stayed just behind the lead New Paltz girl, letting her hear her breathing and the pounding of her steps, goading her to run faster and faster to a pace the New Paltz girl was uncomfortable with.
And after stalking the New Paltz runner for the better part of the race, with about 200 meters to go, Hanson made her move, quickly breaking around her opponent and into the lead. The physically and mentally tired New Paltz runner couldn’t keep up, and ended up losing to the younger runner by 100 meters.
The 3000-meters isn’t even her favorite race. “I get bored running it because it’s so long,” Chloe said. “My favorite race is the 1500 meters. It’s not too long and I can concentrate the whole way.”
While the 1500 meters is her favorite race, it’s one that she will not win this year, because her competition is her mentor, Shannon — the fastest distance runner at Saugerties — and while Averill may look on Hanson as a younger sister, it’s every girl for herself out on the track.
“Just wait until next year when I’m an eighth grader, and Shannon has graduated,” Hanson said.