The 39th annual Chilmark Road Race steps off at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The race is one of the toughest 5Ks out there. It is beautiful, the course making its way up Middle Road, past rolling pastures and breathtaking views. But it is also brutal, with a series of steady uphill climbs that exhaust even seasoned runners.

Many prepare for the race with months of training, and even the most devout couch potato, who chooses to lift off from lethargy for this one special day, makes sure to get in some practice runs.

Jack Lionette, however, approaches the race in a different way, one that includes essentially no running.

Jack is 11 years old and he trains for the race by being an 11-year-old boy. A day in the life of Jack during the summer might include three hours of tennis, a few hours playing ice hockey (yes the rink is now open), some basketball, baseball, the general scrum of activity at the Chilmark Community Center camp, body surfing at the beach, soccer, tree climbing and chasing his 25 chickens around the yard.

The chicken chasing does require some fleet feet and agility, but it isn’t an official training regimen like Rocky Balboa once embraced. For Jack it is a business. He sells the eggs to Art Cliff Diner and State Road Restaurant.

On his way to a time of 19:39, summer of 2015. — Mark Lovewell

This isn’t to say that Jack takes the race lightly. In his mother Heather Quinn’s words: “It is his favorite day of the year.”

Other racers do not take Jack lightly either. He runs like the wind, full out with no quarter. Watching him run calls to mind the character Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire, who when focused on the finish line tossed his head back and let his arms churn wildly as if propelled by some divine inner spirit.

Last year, at age 10, Jack was the fourth fastest Islander of any age to finish the race. His time of 19:39 earned him a first place in his age category (of course) and a 34th place finish overall, out of a field of nearly 1,500. For those too busy to do the math, that time represents a pace of 6 minutes, 20 seconds per mile.

Jack first ran the Chilmark Road Race at age seven, the summer after he finished first grade, and he has run it every summer since.

“I think that was maybe my second year at the Chilmark Community Center Camp,” he recalled in a recent interview at his home in Chilmark with his dog Auggie seated nearby, and his father, Robert Lionette, doing some chores outside. “For all the counselors, that is a big thing for them. I think we all just saw it on the board, and I said, oh, that would be fun.”

Jack’s mother is a runner, but she wasn’t so sure Jack was ready for a race, so she took him on two practice runs with her to test him out.

Jack and his mother Heather Quinn, the head teacher at the Chilmark Preschool — Jeanna Shepard

“I ended up beating her on both of them by like two minutes,” Jack said. “So we decided I really like this.”

And that he was really good at it. But he was also inexperienced and had no clue about pacing himself. He ran the 3.1 miles flat out, with everything he had, finishing with a time of 23:27, in 192nd place.

“I don’t think I could feel my legs by the end, I just had tunnel vision to the finish line,” Jack said. “Then I remember two big guys, two fire guys, picked me up and brought me to the medical tent. They just saw me, I was a little kid, my dad was at work, my mom was way back in the pack. They had to give me oxygen and my mom didn’t know where I went and she found me lying down in the medical tent.”

“It was a fun experience,” he added with a smile.

His mother certainly didn’t think so. Fearing for his health, she set down some rules, including not letting him run the Falmouth Road Race 10K with her that year, no matter how much he begged. The two will finally run that race together later this month.

Jack still doesn’t train in the traditional way by actually running, but over the years he has learned how to navigate a race better by pacing himself next to strong runners. A few years ago at the Chilmark School’s annual turkey trot, Jack ran side by side with local barrister Michael Goldsmith; at least until the finish line when Jack sprinted ahead.

Mr. Goldsmith is very tall, and his long stride seemed to help Jack extend his own eight-year-old stride.

“I topped out at six foot five and three quarters,” Mr. Goldsmith said in a recent phone call to confirm his height and this lesson in humility by being beaten by a kid who came up to his waist.

Last year, Jack picked out Cooper Chatman and Jeremy Alley-Tartar, both counselors at the CCC camp and serious runners, to pace him. He plans to check in with them to see if they want to do it again.

Jack trains not by running, but by being an 11-year-old kid. — Jeanna Shepard

Jack’s father is the chef at Morning Glory Farm, and his mother is head teacher at the Chilmark preschool. While neither seems especially uncoordinated to the naked eye, they both say that they were never big athletes and so have no idea where Jack gets his ability and his drive.

Perhaps it is the hair.

Like a young Sampson, Jack wears his curly hair long, way past his shoulders. He gets it trimmed just twice a year and for that he only lets the scissors come within whispering distance of his locks.

“Twice a year, just one inch, the dead ends,” he confirmed.

On the tennis court with his thick headband, Jack resembles the classic players from the 1970s, a Bjorn Borg or Guillermo Vilas, except in his case it also looks like the wind might blow him away but for the weight of the racquet and his hair.

“Everyone says it slows me up, but I think it’s the opposite,” he said with a big grin.

In addition to his hair, Jack has the home field advantage for this race. He lives in Chilmark and just finished fifth grade at the Chilmark School.

“I know the course because that’s my drive to school. I know Middle Road like the back of my hand.”

And this helps, even if not out there actually practicing, although Jack did concede that this week he might go out for one or two training runs. But mostly the course appears to be a part of his DNA.

“I think about it in my head,” he said. “Okay, you can pick up the speed now when you are done with the hills and you are on the complete flat out. And then you go up just a tiny bit and then you go down into the finish. Right at the beginning of that flat, I tell myself to go.”

Go time for the Chilmark Road Race is 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 13. The finish line is at Beetlebung Corner next to the town hall.