Simon Copeland: The Potawatomi Kid

There is something enviable about the way Simon Copeland carries himself.

He goes to school, plays sports year-round, and hangs out with friends. He’s a busy kid. But many kids are busy. What makes Simon so interesting is the boundlessness of his busyness. He’s adventurous and refined—one moment he’s glancing headers off his noggin on the soccer field, the next he’s plucking jazz scales on an upright bass. Consider the chutzpah of choosing an upright over a guitar at twelve years old. To be that self-assured at so young an age.

To feel boundless.

What adult wouldn’t envy that? Even just a little?

With the sixth grade now behind him, and summer ahead, Simon has wiggle room in his ordinarily hectic schedule to pursue some of his other hobbies—running being chief among them. Last weekend, Simon finished his first half-marathon, taking top honors in his age group. In April, he paced his mother, Naomi, as she ran 50 miles at the Potawatomi Trail Races.

In this interview, Simon talks about his experience at Potawatomi, his favorite aid station snacks (one of which might just blow your mind!), and whether he intends to return to run it again.

What is the story behind pacing your mom at Potawatomi?

My family and I like going on hikes together. After a couple of years of hiking, I ran Galena (Sky Races). Last year I saw my mom run at Potawatomi and I wanted to try it out.

What were your first impressions of the course when you visited it prior to the race?

The first mile felt great. After three miles, it got a lot harder. 

Were you nervous before the race?

No. I checked out the course beforehand, and saw my mom run it last year.  I didn’t get a chance to train before the race. I was sick for a week, then my asthma kept me from doing any running.  My mom helped me get my vest ready the day before.  My dad thought I was starting at loop four, so when my mom got me at loop three, I was thrown into the race and didn’t have time to get nervous.

How was your experience on race day? Was there a section of the course that you enjoyed? Or perhaps a section that you disliked?

I liked going through the creek. It woke me up a bit, the cool water. The hills after it really sucked though. I felt very heavy and weighed down from the water.  The people cheering me on while I was on the course helped me get through the race.      

What was the hardest thing about Potawatomi for you?

The elevation: going up and down, that hurt.   

Do you have a favorite aid station snack?

I like having Warheads with me. They're sour and perked me up.  Another favorite is Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.   

How did you celebrate after your incredible performance?

I went back to the hotel with my siblings and dad, and we went swimming.

Would you do it again?

Yes! If there was a 15 mile option, I’d do that.  Maybe 30?  

Photos provided by Naomi Copeland

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