Cynthia Arnold, 34, from Polson, Montana, showed ultimate mum power last weekend when she crushed the women’s half marathon race in the Missoula Marathon.
On the July 15 race, Arnold not only ranked 14th for women overall and third in her age group, but she also beat the current world record for fastest half marathon time for a woman pushing a three-child buggy. That record was set earlier this year at 1:47:32, but Arnold raised the bar with her 1:29:08. That’s almost 20 minutes faster than the previous record.
Arnold competed in track and cross country in high school and college, so she’s no novice to running. The idea of beating the world record came from Arnold’s husband when they were preparing for their third child.
“He said, ‘You should try to go for this triple world record in the half marathon, that would be really cool,” Arnold said to Runner’s World US. “‘That would be really neat for the kids.’”
Running was already a huge part of their lifestyle: Arnold’s husband runs to work, and Cynthia runs her children to school in the stroller. For her, the goal of running with the kids wasn’t merely to beat a record, but to introduce them to a healthy and active way of living at a young age.
“That type of lifestyle shouldn’t be sacrificed if you have kids, and kids should realise that it’s fun and normal and good to make these types of choices,” Arnold said.
Arnold explained that in the years leading up to having children, she was stricter about her runs: Her socks had to match, she had to wear the right headband or hat, and she had to meet her pace goals. But once she started running with her little ones, all those smaller issues flew out the window. Her new goal was just making sure all the kids were safe in the buggy and out the door without crying—and, hopefully she was wearing socks, whether they matched or not.
Plus, Arnold and her family live in the beautiful town of Polson, about 70 miles north of Missoula. She wants her kids to fully experience their surroundings rather than being cooped up inside the house.
“I think if I can instill the love of being outside and nature in them, and they count butterflies and see the dragonflies and a gazillion grasshoppers hopping around, that’s so much better in the long run than watching cartoons all Saturday morning,” Arnold said.
That environment may have also helped her in her recording-breaking half marathon, too. Polson is windy and hilly, which caused Arnold to run slower with the stroller in her training. Those tougher conditions actually helped prepare her for the race, since the course was flatter and less windy.
When she knew she broke the world record, Arnold said she was, to her surprise, very emotional. She realised the time frame of all her three kids (ages 6, 3, and 11 months old) being in a stroller all at the same time was short, and she just wanted to soak in the moment.
“It was more of a parent moment than a running moment,” she said.
As for how her kids felt while mum was speeding along the course at a 6:48 per mile pace? The kids were licking their lollipops, just enjoying the ride.
A version of this article orginially appeared on Runnersworld.com