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JUNEAU - Riley loves to run, and now he's being rewarded for it.
Floyd Dryden Middle School rising seventh-grader Riley Moser has been selected as one of five Alaskans to represent the state in the Hershey's Track & Field Games in Hershey, Penn. The event begins Thursday and lasts through Saturday.
Moser, 12, will compete in the 800-meter run against other kids his age from all over the United States after turning in a qualifying time of 2:35. Moser said he has been running competitively for about four years now, competing in track and field and cross country.
"I just got into running because my sister and brother used to run," he said. "They took me out, I did a couple races and I liked it. Then I just starteddeveloping this thing for running."
The kids invited also will receive a tour of the Hershey's chocolate factory, as well as attend an amusement park and a water park.
Moser often competes against adults in local Southeast Roadrunner-sponsored events, fairing quite well for himself. In the Midsummer Night Run, a 10k race held on July 8 in Juneau, Moser finished fourth (43:41), right behind one of his mentors, Thunder Mountain High School cross country coach Scott May (43:20).
"He came to me for some advice on how to run the 800-meter run, and so we met out at the track and went over some strategies, did some workouts and gave him some ideas," May said. "It's very exciting for him, and he's just one of those real natural runners who loves to run. They come along every once in a while, and you see them continue on in high school and be really successful because they have the bug. They've caught it.
"One of these days, he's going to finish in front of me. And it will be really soon, I think."
Moser said he races about every two weeks, preferably in long-distance events.
"I usually like 10k's and one-mile's and stuff like that," he said. "But the 800 is the longest race they have (for Hershey's), so I just decided to do that. I'm not a good sprinter, so I just go for the long distance."
Moser said he's intrigued by the opportunity to test his legs against new competition.
"I'm so excited. I've never gone running anywhere else but Juneau, so I think it's amazing to get to travel to go and do a sport," he said. "I'm mostly excited about going there to run competitively for a track event outside of Juneau, getting some new competition. I'll be a little nervous, but I think it will be a great experience, overall."
Eventually, Moser sees himself competing in triathlons and the Boston Marathon. But in the short term, he'sfocused on Hershey, and a possible win.
"That would be nice, but the thing I'm really gunning for is a personal record (PR)," he said about his chances for winning. "I want to keep on tracking my PRs, but it would be really nice to win. I'm just going to give it my all and see what happens."