Calum Neff ran a half-marathon while pushing his daughter in a stroller and demolished a world record.
What comes to mind when you hear “running a half-marathon while pushing a toddler in a jogging stroller?” If you’re like many people, it’s your personal version of hell; if you’re Calum Neff, operations manager by weekday, competitive runner by weekend, it’s your ticket into the Guinness Book of World Records – as long as you can do it fast enough.
Neff ran (and won, duh) the Katy Half Marathon in Katy, Texas last weekend by finishing the race in 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 27 seconds. If I have just over an hour I can maybe binge watch a few episodes of a favorite show or perhaps drink half a bottle of wine. Fine, a full bottle.
But an endurance athlete like Neff can practically sprint while pushing his 20-pound, 11-month old daughter Holland, in a 22-pound jogging stroller no less, at a pace of sub-5 1/2 minutes per mile. That’s right; in the time it takes an average parent to put both shoes on a squirming child, Neff is a mile away. Poof. Not totally impressed yet? Well, he beat the previous record for fastest half-marathon run by a man while pushing a stroller by more than two minutes, which is quite a lot in the distance running community. Thanks to video and witness testimony, he will apply, and hopefully succeed, to hold the new world record. As his wife Julie and elder daughter Alessandra cheered him on from the sidelines – which is exactly where I’d hoorah from myself – Neff made one of his dreams come true. As it is with fulfilling many dreams, there is substantial time, hours of practice, and demonstrable commitment that comes with them. He works full time, runs a whole lot, and is a committed dad whenever he’s with his girls. Presumably, he eats and sleeps somewhere in there. The coolest part of all this? His girls are watching, witnessing, and experiencing their father working hard toward fulfilling dreams. Sometimes they’re at home eating a fatherless dinner while Daddy is pounding the pavement, avoiding ice patches that may slow him down. Maybe they’re watching cartoons while he’s pushing his endurance, trying to beat his own per-mile best time.
Wife Julie agrees, “For me, it’s kind of worth it,” she said. “It’s not so much whether or not he wins or gets a world record, it’s the process of his running that is really amazing to me. It’s important for me to see the girls watch him go after all of his goals and dreams.”
But even though he’s not always with his daughters while he’s lapping the occasional neighborhood jogger, he’s passing on a message: it’s okay to make sacrifices to fulfill dreams, because fulfilling dreams makes us stronger people overall, and probably better parents. We want so badly for our kids to chase their dreams that often our own become suspended in the parenting process. But not all of our goals can or should wait until our children are adults and (hopefully) out from under our roofs.
It’s not likely that Calum Neff, competitive athlete since age four (!), perused the Guinness Book of World Records to find the particular record he felt he could break with a little practice. Rather, he did what he loved to do and decided to incorporate those most important to him into his activities. So take Calum’s incredible accomplishment as inspiration to try something challenging you’ve been meaning to do – and maybe take your kids with you.