Parker Ludwig forges bonds between family and friends as he sprints across the finish line

Parker+and+his+twin+sister+Peyton%2C+who+has+run+with+him+since+elementary+school.

Parker Ludwig

Parker and his twin sister Peyton, who has run with him since elementary school.

Sophomore Parker Ludwig has a memory sticking with him for ages of doing donuts on a golf cart alongside some of his best friends while at a meet with his cross country team. Although this particular memory holds lighthearted feelings, competition is also a key factor in Parker’s running career.

Beginning in elementary school, Parker had taken to the track to begin what would become about eight years of competitive running. From cross country in the fall to track in the spring, running has been the sport in which Parker has let his talent and hard work shine through.

“[I run] because I’m good at it,” Parker said. “I tried soccer and wasn’t good at it, [and] for baseball, I wasn’t the best at it. Actually, I was close to the bottom of the batting list. I did play football; I know, that’s crazy, but obviously, it didn’t work out. For track, I like the people on it. It’s fun stuff.”

Due to his experience and skills in track, Parker has stuck with the sport all these years. It’s difficult to keep with one sport for so long, and Parker has been able to do so by balancing his objectives with the sport.

Too much competitiveness can cause stress for a runner, while a lack of motivation can have the opposite effect and lead to unsuccessful races. However, with a balance like Parker has, things have been running smoothly.

“[I like] a little bit of both,” Parker said. “It’s running—nobody likes running. I don’t really like running that much, but it’s fun; I like cars, so I kind of treat it like a car race. The point is when you’re in it, sometimes, you don’t feel [the pain] because there are people around you. I hate running by myself because there’s nobody there.”

The point is when you’re in it, sometimes you don’t feel [the pain] because there are people around you. I hate running by myself because there’s nobody there.”

— Parker Ludwig

Interestingly enough, Parker’s love of running doesn’t stem from the physical activity itself, but rather from the people on his team and surrounding him on the track.

Through connections, friends, and relationships he’s built both during and after the track seasons, he has been able to find relatable topics and ways to expand his social circle.

“You can talk to them, and you can relate to them unless they’re super fast,” Parker said. “But, most of the time, they’re feeling the same thing as you and they don’t want to [be doing] it. It’s fun to suffer with other people.”

Not only does Parker find reassurance in his teammates and even fellow competitors, he also has had familial bonds grow stronger through this sport.

From elementary school through 5/6 school, Parker’s mother has been the coach of his track team. Since Parker’s mother has a history of running herself, as she is in the Hall of Fame at Spring Arbor University for the 300-meter run, it is no surprise that she wanted to pass this opportunity along to her children as well.

“It’s good to have someone’s parent [coaching],” Parker said. “[Whether] it’s mine or anyone else’s, it’s good to have some type of connection for younger ages. But, as we get older, I feel like it should be a coach that keeps doing it because they have the most experience and not because they know the [athletes].”

Although Parker looks up to his mother and admires her running abilities, he has followed her advice and chosen not to continue cross country or track in college and instead let high school be his last hurrah.

Fortunately for Parker, he hasn’t had to make all of these decisions and face the pressures of running alone. His twin sister, Peyton, has been running by his side since their very first practices. There isn’t much competition between the two, and Parker is thankful to have someone to relate to around.

“There’s no competition,” Parker said. “We understand each other sometimes about running, so that’s nice, especially when my mom says, ‘You’ve got to go run now,’ there’s someone to complain to.”