ENGLEWOOD, Colorado (LifeSiteNews) — A professional female long-distance runner and Olympic qualifier recently smashed a different type of record: The fastest mile while pushing a stroller.
The marathoner mom says her life is more balanced and fulfilling since having a family, and she is aiming to help other parents include their children in an active, healthy lifestyle.
On June 30, 33-year-old Neely Spence Gracey clocked a five-minute, 24.17-second mile (about 11 mph) while pushing a baby stroller occupied by her helmet-wearing two-year-old son, shattering the previous women’s record in the category by more than 30 seconds, The Denver Post reported.
The long-distance runner, who’s coached by her husband, became interested in challenging the record after noticing that the existing mile record was one she’d probably already broken “just in my runs around the neighborhood with my kids in the stroller,” she told Women’s Running.
A wife and mother of two young boys who has been running for as long as she can remember, Gracey stresses that “having kids doesn’t have to hold you back from your goals.”
“I grew up going to the track with my dad, who is an Olympian, and ended up loving running because of it,” the wife, mom, and author said.
Gracey’s father, Steven Spence, was a bronze medalist at the 1991 World Championships Marathon in Tokyo, Japan.
“My parents ran every day,” she said. “I grew up knowing that athletics was part of our family’s norm, and I want the same for my kids.”
In high school, Gracey was a four-time Pennsylvania state champion, The Denver Post reported. She went on to win eight national titles at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and become a professional athlete after college. In 2016, she became the top American finisher in the world-renowned Boston Marathon. She has qualified for the Olympics four times.
But while she had “checked off all the boxes” and became “the most successful that I could,” Gracey said her life became narrowly focused on her professional career “to the extent that I felt like it became unhealthy.”
She would find balance and fulfillment after becoming a mother to her two boys, Athens (5) and Rome (2), with her husband, running coach Dillon Gracey.
“I’ve thrived a lot more in having a much more balanced lifestyle – having friends, having the kids, having my job,” she said.
Gracey said she wants her boys “to be part of my goals and see the benefits of [an active lifestyle] from a young age,” Women’s Running noted. She also hopes other parents “know that it is entirely possible to find a way to include your kids in your athletic goals.”
She now runs a coaching business along with a fellow “mother runner,” helping people live active, healthy lifestyles. She’s training for the Olympic Trials in the marathon in February 2024 in Orlando, Florida, “which will undoubtedly include logging many miles with her kiddos along for the ride,” Women’s Running reported.
In a recent Instagram post, she gave a shoutout to other runner moms who “put their family first but always get the miles in.”
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