PASO ROBLES — Tyler Daillak is a 10-year-old fifth grader who currently attends Bauer Speck Elementary School. He is average height for a fifth-grader, has skinny legs and arms and thin blonde hair that covers his forehead. He is kind, sweet, friendly and just like most young boys he can not sit still.
Daillak is not most boys though, he is special in the most magnificent of ways. His talents are unheard of, his humility is refreshing and his spirit shines bright. According to Daillak’s father Steve, “He was evaluated at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford and was given a diagnosis of something like autism spectrum with sensitivity disorder because he did not squarely fit into any of the diagnostic categories.” Daillak is full of energy at all times, “He always says, ‘My body just wants to move,’” his father told me. What some people may deem a disability is most certainly not. Daillak is, for all intents and purposes, a running prodigy, and it started from when he was just a toddler.
Daillak’s grandfather Bill remembers when his wife took Tyler to the pediatrician.
“When she took him to the pediatrician he asked her if he was walking and she said, ‘well, he is running,’ and the doctor said, ‘show me,’ so she took him out into the hallway and he was just a little guy and he sprinted the length of the hallway and the doctor was just shaking his head and going wow,” he said.
It was at that point that the Daillak’s knew their boy was a runner but it wasn't until he started school at Bauer Speck and was encouraged to participate in their free public sports programs for children in third, fourth and fifth grade that they realized his tremendous talent. These programs are in place to help kids find something they love without their parents being burdened with paying registration fees for a sport that their child might not love. The program was designed for instances such as Daillak’s.
“I was like, ‘You know what? Now this is fun, this is a fun thing to do, I think I should sign up for track and cross country,’” Daillak said. “So I did. So my dad signed me up and I was in and it was really fun! So I kept doing it.”
Daillak started running cross country in third grade and has continued to improve and fall more in love with the sport every day. Daillak now runs 5K races almost every weekend and not only competes, but defeats grown men, scholarship runners, and lifelong running enthusiasts while barely standing four feet tall. On Oct. 8 Daillak competed in the City to the Sea 5K in Pismo Beach. He finished in sixth place overall, finishing with a time of 19:42. To offer some perspective, the five runners who finished ahead of him ages were: 31, 18, 49, 26, 29 and then Daillak, who is ten. It has become commonplace for runners to ask to take pictures with Daillak after their races because they want to meet the boy that just outpaced them over a three mile course.
Over the summer, Daillak attended one of the All-Comers track meets at Atascadero High School and was set on breaking the mile record for nine-year-olds, but unfortunately he had just barely turned ten. Instead of breaking the record for nine-year-olds that day, Daillak broke the record for the 10-12 age group despite the fact that he was barely even ten.
The running hasn't just given Daillak something that he is good at, it has also helped him with his school work and his social groups.
“He has made great gains since he started running over the last couple years,” Steve said. “Ty always says that he feels that he needs to move and that if he stays still he gets very uncomfortable… Since he can burn off the extra energy it just seems to give him a little bit more clarity of thought, a little more patience and he can participate and talk with everybody and focus on his homework a little bit better.”
On Friday, Daillak ran his final mile at the District Championships that were taking place at Paso Robles High School. As Daillak came sprinting down the home stretch the fans began roaring with excitement. The sound of camera shutters chattered in the air and news reporters gathered at the finish line. It was an event and as he always does, Daillak crossed the finish line without another runner in sight.
“That encouraged me to sprint,” Daillak said of the homestretch.
He crossed the finish line with a time of 6:05.18. According to his dad, Daillak generally finishes a full minute before the second place runner with his fastest mile being 5:38.
Daillak will move on to the middle school next and will eventually be a future Bearcat, something that he says, “I'm really looking forward to.”
Perhaps the most impressive part about Daillak’s running is that he still hasn’t been taught much technique. He ran with Steve Martin, a running coach from the Shandon area, but at the elementary level the goal is for kids to develop a desire for their sport and the technique will come later in middle and high school.
“I don't want to put too much pressure on him right now, I just want him to have fun and enjoy it,” Daillak’s father said.
Let this go down as another testament to the old adage that you, “shouldn't judge a book by it's cover,” because if you see a short, smiling, blonde boy lining up next to you in your next 5K, you might think you have a chance, but you most certainly won’t.