This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen the 35-year-old mother of three wield a trio of tykes across a race finish line. Last year, she broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest-half marathon while pushing a three-person stroller at the Missoula Half Marathon in Missoula, Montana.
This year, she returned to the event to go for an even larger goal: to set the Guinness World Record for the fastest full marathon while pushing three kids at the Missoula Marathon.
In order to break the previous three-person stroller marathon record, Arnold had to finish 42km in 4 hours and 6 minutes. She ended up blowing that time out of the water, maintaining just under 4:33 pace per km and crossing the line in 3:11—despite the fact that her three children are now a year older and significantly heavier than the last time she went for a record. Her three kids combine to weigh about 59kg, which brings the total to roughly 83kg when taking the weight of the stroller into account.
Arnold began training for the marathon last year, kicking off her preparations with a trail marathon in February and a series 32km training runs. Most of these runs were done alone, but she did load up the stroller to take her kids occasionally. The stroller runs were usually limited to 16km, plus one 27km long run for a confidence booster.
When she does run with her kids—ages six, four, and one—they enjoy it as much as she does, she told Runner’s World. That is, when they’re not napping.
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“We live in rural Montana and see lots of wildlife on the bike path right out my door,” Arnold said. “I keep a pretty consistent routine and see some regular commuters each day, and the kids like saying hello to the cyclists.”
When it came to deciding on a race, the Missoula Marathon seemed to be a perfect fit. “The atmosphere is perfect for the family, it is the perfect combination of beautiful country scenery and urban crowds in downtown Missoula,” she said.
After running the half marathon the year before, she was also a familiar face to spectators.
“The crowd was amazingly supportive,” she said. “I was moved by how many people were cheering for me and knew what my goal was on race day. One woman called out ‘I’ve been reading about you all year. Go mum!’”
But despite the supportive atmosphere, the race still wasn’t a stress-free experience. Minutes before the gun went off, Arnold’s video camera attached to her stroller fell off. In order to be qualified for a Guinness World Record, the attempt must be taped in full. After slight manoeuvring and a lot of tape, she managed to reattach the camera and keep it secure throughout the race.
“Running alone in a race is so simple now,” said Arnold. “It’s interesting to me how my perspective has changed as I have grown as a mother. I used to really stress so much about racing, and now it’s sort of the last thing I’m thinking about.”
Having now reached her goals (pending official acknowledgement from Guinness), Arnold plans to run a marathon on her own this spring—but she’s still far from leaving her stroller running days behind her.
“I was laughing with my husband about throwing the stroller into a ditch or off a cliff, you know, say goodbye to that heavy old thing,” said Arnold. “But I would never really do that. I tear up when I think any day could be the last day my oldest daughter goes for a run in the stroller. She can ride her bike while I run now.”
After years of running with her kids, Cynthia highly recommends it.
“Running with the stroller has so many benefits for running parents,” she said. “Those of us who run know how much it is a part of our identity. You can’t just give that up if you become a parent. The stroller gives one the freedom to carry on a lifestyle with new ones in tow.”
This article originally appeared on Runner's World US.