You may not have even known there was a Guinness World record for men running a half marathon while pushing a stroller. But extreme athlete Calum Neff (pictured above) did, and he just broke the record — finishing up the 13.1-mile run in just one hour, 11 minutes, and 27 seconds, pushing his 11-month-old daughter Holland the whole time.
“It was just a truly epic day to share with my youngest daughter,” Calum, 31, told Today about his accomplishment, which happened on Saturday as he ran and won the Katy Half Marathon in Katy, Tex. He beat the record, set in 2013, by more than two minutes, though he still needs to submit his documentation to Guinness. “It shows that anything is really possible,” the oil-field services operations manager added, “and being a dad and working doesn’t mean you have to give up on other dreams and hobbies.”
Calum and Holland after the race. (Photo: Instagram)
Running with Holland — who weighs 20 pounds, and rode in a 22-pound sport stroller — was no easy feat. But his daughter made it fun. “For almost the entire race, she was waving and clapping and talking and babbling away,” Calum, of Houston, Tex., said. “She was stealing all the hearts along the way, that’s for sure. There was so much support on the course. Everyone was cheering and a lot of people knew who we were and that we were going after the record.”
At around mile 11, the dad noted, Holland “fussed a little,” but that only motivated him to finish faster — as well as rub her head for comfort and hand her a glove to play with. Neff’s wife Julie waited at the finish line with their other daughter, 3-year-old Alessandra, and other relatives.
"It was awesome,” Julie said. “There was so much energy. I was shaking, I was so excited.”
Calum — who started running competitively at 4 years old and also enjoys ice climbing, hang gliding, and paragliding, as well as running ultra-marathons — spoke with Running Dad about how he balances his 30- to 80-mile-a-week running with work and parenting.
“I think when you love something, it’s not a matter of finding time. Family, running, and yes, even work, I care about, so I have the time,” he said. “I’m not worried about missing a day of training or even trying to make it up. You have to be flexible. My wife also helps a lot and I can feel guilty about missing dinners and bedtimes, but it makes the time I do spend with them that much more important.”
Keeping their marriage healthy is the biggest challenge, Calum added. “It’s hard when I have to work all day, feel like I have not got to do anything for myself (like getting in a run), and come home to a busy house,” he said. “But it’s just as tough for my wife finding her time. Sometimes we have to have a little talk about re-balancing the priorities, but the important thing is, we do talk. She sees the importance and value in everything I do and is always supportive. Having my own time with the girls is also very important. The relationship and type of love is different between parents, so being able to share my activities, or just play wrestle with them when I get home from work is all part of their development and the balance.”
Finally, the record breaker told Today that he hoped to inspire his daughters, as well as families, to find time to enjoy fresh air and exercise together. Especially with technology,“ he said. "It’s so easy to stick kids in front of a tablet, but getting outside — it doesn’t matter what pace you run — it’s just getting kids outside and enjoying those moments.”
(Top photo: Instagram)