(Feature image via Gameface Media-Bruce Muhlbradt)

Running a marathon is hard.

Pushing a jogging stroller full of kidlets (and actually jogging) is hard.

Heck, just being a mom is hard.

Put all three together and it sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen.

One rock-star mama made it a dream.

Theresa Marie Pitts, a Montana mom of eight, shares a refreshing perspective on achieving that dream. For her, doing tough things is sweetened by including her “whys” in the journey:

“Nothing else brings more joy to my heart than being a mother. So, in celebration of life and motherhood, I chose to include my children on these marathon adventures.”

For many of us, goals like running a marathon is one of things that we add to our bucket lists as a fitness objective or simply to say “I did it!”  And, if we’re honest, many of us would confess to using our kids as an excuse to postpone a dream rather than as a reason to propel it.

For Theresa, family comes first. She accomplishes what she can by planning ahead for their needs and maintaining a flexible training schedule. If she’s able to push herself more on some days, great. If her littles aren’t up for a run or there’s too many other things going on, rest days are good, too.

But for the most part, she and her kids enjoy logging miles while laughing together, taking in the beauty of their surroundings, and sometimes stopping at the park to get some “cross-training” in.

“Sometimes my older ones will ride alongside us on their bicycles so we have this huge caravan of children stretched out along the path. It is beautiful,” she relates.

In June, Theresa was deemed the “speediest stroller-pusher in the world” after getting herself and three youngest children (totaling over 145 pounds) across the finish line in just over two hours—an unofficial world record for half-marathon.

The result of this amazing feat encouraged Theresa and her family to set their sights on a new goal: achieving a Guinness World Record for the full marathon.

In the pre-dawn hours on July 9, 2017 in Missoula, Montana, Theresa set out to just that. She strapped in her kiddos ages four, two, and five months—along with all the necessary baby supplies—and ran.

Despite exhaustion, the mind games that come into play when so many things could go wrong (what if the baby has a blowout along the way or a tire goes flat?), and having to stop twice—once to burp and cuddle the baby, another time to re-strap her wriggly two-year-old—the record-setting achievement was not just hers, but theirs.

Although it will take some time for it to become Guinness-World-Record-official, Theresa and crew already have other goals in mind, including another race this September.

“The record is neat,” she admits. “But those who are close to me know my heart and know I want to do good with the gifts given me. My ultimate endeavor is to be able to share what I’ve learned about overcoming adversity, achieving and maintaining whole-health and happiness, triumphing over our demons, and turning our weaknesses into our very strengths.”

Her other heart’s desire is that by exemplifying both physical and mental resilience, she can instill in her children an attitude of “no excuses—I can do hard things!”

Theresa’s advice for other moms with big dreams?

“Whatever your goal is, start your path in simple ways. Assess where you’re at and then do a little bit more today than you did yesterday. Maintain balance in your life and in your home by focusing on smaller, more manageable goals that move you closer to your big goals…. Stretch yourself, and KEEP. ON. REACHING.”

Photo credit: Thom Bridge

Leann Clarke

Leann Clarke is an outdoor-loving mama who enjoys riding horses, dancing, soaking in a good book, and hunting with her husband. She’s also mom to two active kiddos who excel at keeping her humble. She believes strongly in prayer, laughter, and eating chocolate for breakfast. Leann shares snippets of her life in Montana and more on her blog, The Hunting Mom.