KALISPELL – The winner of the Missoula Marathon had crossed the finish line nearly two hours earlier. But only one woman set a Guinness World Record in the race.
Kalispell’s Theresa Marie Pitts set the mark for pushing a three-kid stroller in a marathon, finishing in 4 hours, 25 minutes.
No one had attempted the mark in the Guinness World Record book. The organization set a 4 hour, 30 minute qualifying standard that Pitts had to hit.
The 38-year-old mother of eight children had never before run a full 26.2-mile marathon. And she had to push about 145 pounds of stroller, plus her three youngest kids through the course. At about Mile 20, Pitts hit a wall. But she found a way to push through, and showed her joy with a triumphant cheer at the finish line.
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“I was completely exhausted,” Pitts admitted. “I was in a lot of pain. I was feeling sick. And then I saw the 4:30 pacers pass me. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It took everything I had to stay with those 4:30 pacers. Somehow I tapped into an extra reserve tank that I never knew I had.”
Pitts kept herself on a steady speed during the early miles, staying between the 4:00 and 4:30 pacers that show runners where they stand if they keep the same pace. She thanked a young runner that also had a 4:30 goal, and race director Tony Banovich, who both ran with her during stretches of the race.
Pitts also praised her well-behaved children, who slept for most of the long ride through Missoula. She had to come to a complete stop only twice. Once at Mile 6 to buckle her 2-year-old son back into the stroller. He had somehow worked himself free, and was standing as his mother pushed him down Mullan Road. The second stop occurred past Mile 8, when her 5-month-old daughter let out a cry and needed to be comforted.
Pitts had already set the half-marathon record for pushing a three-kid stroller at the Governor’s Cup in Helena last month. She already is planning another half-marathon run in Bozeman this September.