EUGENE, Ore. -- According to Eugene Marathon’s race policy, runners have to be at least 16-years-old to compete in the full marathon.
But 13-year-old Winter Vinecki is the exception to that rule.
“I’m used to racing with adults, and I think it’s kind of fun to run past them,” said Vinecki in her Winnebago just an hour before the race on Sunday.
Vinecki’s mother, Dr. Dawn L. Estelle, said her daughter was born to run.
“I give it 110 percent every day, and do what I want to do,” said Vinecki as her mom placed a removable Team Winter tattoo on her right arm. “And I do what I'm capable of doing today, and I don’t wait till tomorrow or next week because you never know when could be your last day."
With that motivation in mind, Vinecki said she will start a world marathon tour at Hayward Field for the Eugene Marathon. She said she plans to run seven marathons on seven continents before she turns 15, which would be a world record for the youngest woman to do so.
But Vinecki said she does not run for glory.
"I'm starting a world marathon tour for my dad and prostate cancer,” she said.
When Vinecki was eight years old her father was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of prostate cancer. At that time, Vinecki was already running races for various causes.
“Little did I know that my dad, at that time, had a tumor growing inside of him,” she said.
Eight months later he was dead from the disease, and she immediately switched causes from preventing childhood obesity to prostate cancer awareness.
Then, Vinecki formed Team Winter to raise awareness about the disease and raise money for a cure.
“I decided not sit around and be sad all the time because you can't change it,” said Vinecki. “I want to help other families so they don't have to go through what I went through."
So far, Team Winter has raised $400,000 for prostate cancer.
Vinecki said every time she steps to the starting line she has one thought: “keeping her dad’s spirit alive.”
And during the race, she said remembering the pain her dad had suffered is what keeps her going.
“To stay focused and on track, if I have a cramp or I'm super tired, I just think about how my dad had cancer and went through all that pain,” she said. “And if he could deal with that, then I could deal with any kind of pain."
Vinecki finished the Eugene Marathon in 3:45:04.
When asked what kept her going, Vinecki said, “Just thinking about my dad and doing this for my family."
Winter said the next marathon on her continental tour will be this September in Kenya, Africa. She said the only continent that makes her a little nervous to race on is Antarctica.