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Florida mom runs world-record mile while pushing a stroller

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

I like to run. I've also got young kids. And the combination of the two can be tricky for a lot of parents. It can be hard to find the time or the energy or the elusive magical combination of both to go get that run in when there's always so much to do. And that is where the running stroller comes in. Now, some parent runners hate them, some love them, but no parent in world history has done what Kaitlin Donner recently pulled off. The 34-year-old mother of two and her 20-month-old son, Mikey, just set the world record for running the mile while pushing a stroller - a blistering five minutes and 11 seconds. That topped the previous record by 13 seconds. And the Guinness Book of World Records was there to make it official. Caitlin Donner joins us now to talk about this. Kaitlin, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

KAITLIN DONNER: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited.

DETROW: You're a world record holder. How's that feel?

DONNER: (Laughter) It's really fun. You know, when I had my son, the one that was in the stroller, and then even my older son five years ago, didn't expect that this was ever going to be on the radar. But it's turned out to be a really fun experience.

DETROW: How did this first come about? Were you doing any other races with stroller running? Were you just running with a stroller and thinking, what if? Like, where did this come from?

DONNER: Yeah. It was not on my radar at all. And one of my best friends, who's the director of operations of Space Coast Runners, which is a local nonprofit running club here in Melbourne, Fla., she pitched to me shortly after Mikey was born in 2022. Hey. There's this, you know, Guinness Book of World record stroller mile. Maybe you should think about it. We've been going back-and-forth with it, and I've been kind of joking with it like, I don't know. This seems, you know, kind of silly and - not silly in the sense of, like, to take away from parents pushing a stroller at all.

But you're pushing a stroller in a circle around a track four times. She convinced me about two weeks before the event. Hey. I'm putting on this 4x4 mixed relay as part of the club. What do you think about doing the stroller mile at the beginning? And I knew she wasn't going to let it go, so I just said yes.

DETROW: How much specific training went in? Were you doing loops on the track with the stroller beforehand?

DONNER: I did one workout with the stroller on the track. So a couple days before, like three days before, I went to the track and just did four 400s with Mikey in the stroller. So I've run plenty of miles pushing the single stroller, pushing the double stroller, and then have trained for a lot of different race distances, you know, along the way. So you just kind of keep running. And I just wanted to get a feel for the turns on the track.

DETROW: I think it's probably clear to anybody listening that you are a serious runner. You've been a competitive runner for a while. Can you fill us in on the background of what you were doing before you were the world record holder in stroller running the mile?

DONNER: Yeah. So it's not completely out of nowhere. I ran at University of Florida on track and field scholarship and cross-country scholarship for three years for the 1,500 meters and transitioned over to triathlon, was on the U.S. national team for several years on the ITU circuit trying to qualify for the Olympics, and was in two Olympic selection events, but unfortunately didn't make the team.

And then after my first son was born, kind of transitioned away from triathlon. I didn't want to travel quite as much and have that living-out-of-a-suitcase lifestyle. I wanted to be home more. So opened up a PT practice and then just started running more. I think running is a lot easier in the sense of you can put on your shoes and just go out the door and do it, as opposed to triathlon, where you're swimming, biking and running. So there is an athletic background. I didn't just decide to pick up the stroller and go run around in circles.

DETROW: (Laughter).

DONNER: Yeah. But it's been really fun.

DETROW: What was Mikey's mindset during the record run? Was he competitive about it? Was he staying still? Or was he just like, hey, we're going fast, this is fun?

DONNER: Yeah. Apparently, he was looking around. After about 200 meters, I kind of saw his feet go up. And I was like, oh, no, because he's definitely my wild child. Like, he's definitely a second child.

DETROW: Yeah.

DONNER: And when we take him on bike rides, when he's in the bike seat behind me, it's 50/50 whether he keeps his helmet on. So he did great. He only had to last, you know, a little over five minutes, which is a lot shorter than a lot of our runs. And he got to have fun with his grandparents and brothers as soon as we got done.

DETROW: You know, I do have one last serious question, though. This is probably striking a lot of parents because a lot of parents, when they've got young kids, are really intimidated about getting back into exercise. You know, you're exhausted. If you gave birth, there's the physical recovery. A lot of this is really daunting. Do you have any advice for somebody listening with young kids thinking, oh, it is so hard to exercise, I could not even run a 12-minute mile right now?

DONNER: It's funny you bring this up because I was just talking with one of my running partners this morning because it's one of the most-asked questions that I get.

DETROW: Yeah.

DONNER: You know, what I really want to say to people is, like, I don't know. I'm figuring it out along the way, like a lot of most parents, that you can continue to do hard things and work for big goals. Definitely prioritize yourself. There's really always mom guilt. I think on almost any run I'm on or even doing the stroller mile or taking them to different races, it's like, you know, like, what is this for if I get them up early or they're up late? But at the end of the day, they do have a lot of fun with it. They like spending time with me. I like spending time with them. And I love sharing my passion with them.

DETROW: That's Kaitlin Donner, the world record holder for running the mile pushing a stroller. Thank you so much for joining us. And congratulations.

DONNER: Yeah. Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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