St. Louis half-marathon runner proves autism is his superpower

“I completed my first half marathon!” 35-year-old Jim Wahl said after crossing the finish line of the Go! St. Louis half marathon, Sunday.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 11:07 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - “I completed my first half marathon!” 35-year-old Jim Wahl said after crossing the finish line of the Go! St. Louis half marathon, Sunday.

Wahl ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 20 minutes, and 4 seconds. He has those numbers, and many others, memorized.

“He just has such a knack for numbers, and he always has,” Jim’s father Bill Wahl said.

Jim’s autism makes him a number wizard. If you tell him your birth date, he can tell you what day of the week that was.

“He’s going to do really well on a course with a lot of numbers, mile markers, water stations to count, your pace per mile,” said Go! St. Louis president Mona Vespa.

The numbers and the running help clear his mind.

“During COVID when everybody was on lockdown, he wasn’t working so he went out and ran 5 days a week and I really think that gave him a purpose and something to do,” Jim’s mother Carolyn Wahl said. “It kept him grounded in that stressful time.”

The race started at Forest Park and ended in downtown St. Louis. Jim ran the course with his brother.

“It was hard, really hard,” Jim said. “I’m gonna go rest.”

“You know, I think the cool thing about running is it’s pretty accessible to a lot of people and there’s easy ways to make accommodations so that everyone has the opportunity,” said Vespa. “Any time we can make that possible, we do.”