Ohio Township woman completes 5 marathons in 5 days
Elite runners spend an entire year training for a marathon, but Dawn Kumlien didn't have the benefit of five years to train for five marathons.
“I've been training since November. I had a training program I followed,” said Kumlien, 25, of Ohio Township. “Mentally before, I felt like I was prepared. Running is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical, but no matter how much running I did, nothing prepared me physically or mentally for the hills in Pennsylvania.”
Kumlien ran five marathons in five days as part of the “MS Run the U.S.” relay to benefit MS research. Dawn's mother, Jill, has been living with MS for 35 years, and the relay was organized to raise awareness and funds.
From Aug. 18-22, Kumlien ran 131 miles from Youngstown, Ohio, to Pittsburgh. Admitting she isn't a top-flight runner, and only ran competitively in high school, Kumlien had to battle through soreness and exhaustion, especially on Day 5 to finish her leg.
“It was very difficult. I slowed down a lot. My knee was hurting me. I was having a lot of issues, and my miles were slower,” Kumlien said of Day 5. “I was walking some of it. I wanted to quit, and I didn't want to do it anymore.”
Kumlien didn't have to look far for inspiration, as her mother was there for every step.
“Knowing that I was able to do that for my mom, and (my parents) told me they were proud of me. It was nice to have them there with me,” Kumlien said.
Before completing her five marathons, Kumlien never ran more than 22 miles in training or studied her elevation chart thoroughly.
“I think it helped me and also hurt me because I didn't know what to expect,” Kumlien said. “My first marathon felt great.”
It was the rolling landscape of Pennsylvania that surprised.
“The hills were brutal,” Kumlien said. “It didn't matter if you were prepared for them. It was hill after hill after hill after hill. I never had a break on the hills.”
Kumlien completed the 19th segment of the nationwide relay, and described her week full of running as surreal.
“This past week was like an out-of-body experience,” Kumlien said. “Yes, I was there, but looking back on it now I can't believe that just happened.”
There are still more miles to be run, though. Jill Kumlien will finish the relay in an adult stroller pushed by other really members of “Team Jill,” Sept. 6 in New York City. As much of an emotional roller coaster last week was for Dawn, she can't wait to get to New York.
“I can't imagine what NYC will be like,” Kumlien said. “It'll be a completely different experience.”
It's the first year of the relay, and after overcoming some struggles to finish her leg, Dawn didn't hesitate about doing it again.
“I already signed up for my leg next year.”
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.