Every July 4th the wife and I run the Lake Mahopac 8 Mile Classic. The race circles one of New York’s most buautiful bodies of water, and also happens to take place in my hometown.

This year, for the first time, when the event ended they held a 1/4-mile race for kids. It cost $1, with all proceeds going to charity. My son, Emmett, is 3. My daughter, Casey, is almost 7. Both ran—and it was a true thrill.

Casey is unathletic. V-e-r-y unathletic. She initially didn’t want to participate, but when she saw the 25 (or so) other kids lined up, she jumped in. My son isn’t Michael Jordan, but he’s pretty fast, extremely determined and solidly coordinated. He was all go.

Both kids were wearing sandals. Casey took off and was leading Emmett for about half the race. Then she tired, looked back and said, “Come on, Emmett!” He caught up to her, then—with her blessing—passed. His face was scruched with determination, his arms pumping, his eyes straight ahead. He chugged his way around, crossed the finish line, then received his medal. Casey crossed a few seconds later, with my wife’s urging. She got her medal, too.

Can’t fully explain the ecstacy here, but I’ll try. This was the same track where I ran three years of high school track and XC (our races ended with a lap). So it was neat, seeing them line up on the same line I did, leaning forward, waiting for the start, fists clenched, hearts beating. Plus, I love running. L-o-v-e it.

Hopefully, they will too.