Kalispell's Theresa Pitts will be going for a world record at this year's Governors Cup -- if she can keep up with three of her children.
The 38-year old mother of eight will be chasing -- well, pushing -- three of kids in a three-baby stroller, in the Gov Cup's half marathon.
"I'm a super fan of whole-health and fitness, but I didn't really discover this passion of mine until 2013, after my sixth child was born," she said. "I was in a depressive slump and was searching for a healthy way to get back on track mentally, physically and spiritually.
"So I set a goal, and with a little bit of training went out and raced my first sprint triathlon, the Bitterroot Classic Tri, in Hamilton. And I absolutely loved it."
Since then, Pitts has enjoyed training for and racing everything from road races to obstacle races, including the Montana Spartan Beast, just five weeks after the birth of her seventh child in 2015. Later that year she ran the Seattle Super with a time of 1:51:23, finishing 19th out of 1,268 women, placing in the top one percent of the field.
"It's fun to mix things up with these varied races, but I do love the simplicity of long-distance running, which makes up the bulk of my fitness training," Pitts said. "And running is one of the ways I have learned to keep myself well-balanced and mentally and physically strong despite the challenges and stresses of life.
"Because of our large family and very busy schedule, I was finding it difficult to get out on solo runs with any regularity. So I started bringing my children along with me, first using a double stroller, then a wide triple stroller once my newest was born. And now have three children under 4 years of age."
Pitts described it being "much harder to run while pushing a stroller," but it has made her stronger.
"To me, the only thing that makes a good run better is being able to bring my children along with me," she said. "We chat and laugh enjoy each other's company. We frequently stop to play at the park; cross-training.
"I like to train by feel rather than a rigid schedule or training plan with little or no flexibility. If I feel like pushing myself a little faster and farther, I do. If my kids really don't feel like a run or if there are just too many activities going on, I call it a rest day. My family and the well-being of my children always comes first."
Pitts says she still incorporates elements of a good training plan, including tempo runs, long runs, hills and speed work, and strength training -- often using her children as extra weight or resistance.
"I train with my children; they've been with me over the rocky paths and the smooth," recounted Pitts. "During the uphills and downhills. So when I decided that I wanted to take on the marathon challenge, I asked myself, 'How could I leave them out at the culmination of my efforts?' I wanted them there with me when I cross the finish line, too. So I sent an application into Guinness, and apparently they loved the idea so here I am.
"So far the support of the community has been incredible. All the cheers, high-fives, words of encouragement, and support I've received thus far has been such a confidence booster."
The Governor's Cup will be the first official half-marathon she'll run with a stroller. Her Guinness Book of World Records attempt is in the category of "Fastest half-marathon while pushing a triple pram stroller." In order to qualify for the record, she must run the 13.1 miles in under 2:15:00. Pitts said she did a practice run a few week ago "with the littles, and did 13.1 in 2:05," so she's feeling very confident.
"My three youngest children along for the journey are Evan, 4, Anders, 2, and Avi, 4 months," Pitts said. "I'll be pushing 140-pounds of stroller, babies, and supplies over all those miles and must factor in the times I'll need to slow down or stop entirely to tend to their needs; so this challenge is very unique.
"Indeed, it will be a journey for us all, but I feel we have trained well and I’m excited for the challenge ahead."