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The Most Important Mile of My Life: Christine Kurtz

Christine's daughter Karlene, then 7, at the 1983 National Cherry Festival 5K.
Christine's daughter Karlene, then 7, at the 1983 National Cherry Festival races, where she received a medal for completing the fun run.

Before I even jogged my first half mile, some running sage had advised that writing down every run would be motivational. I have logged every mile I’ve run, thousands of them.

But I won’t be flipping through the pages of my many journals to find that most important mile. It only took a second to choose one.

My daughters grew up knowing that their mother was a “runner.” They were ages 1, 3 and 5 when I started running in the mornings while the rest of the family slept.

In the summer of 1983 I was training for my second Cherry Festival 15K race when my middle daughter, Karlene, age 7, said that she wanted to run in the two-mile fun run that same weekend. She challenged me, saying, “I’ll bet I can run two miles right now!” She remembers that I said, “I’ll bet you can’t.” (I missed the lesson on giving positive reinforcement to your kids.) She replied with “Oh, yes I can!”

So she and older sister, Erika, age 10, both ran at least one mile with me. And both completed the fun run that weekend. Karlene was even asked to ride in the Cherry Royale Parade as “the youngest runner” in the fun run.

Two years after that Karlene was running elementary track (her event was the mile). She competed in track and cross country through junior and senior high school and at Michigan State University.

Karlene and I continued to run together on occasion but it wasn’t long before “running together” meant we “began running” together. When I saw her this past Christmas, she said running the first half a block together was important to her because it got her started.

“Getting started” on running 31 years ago was really Karlene’s idea, but I’m glad to be her mentor. Her sisters likewise took up running and we all find that it is a great way to stay fit and something on which we can find common ground.

Christine (far left) with her daughters Erika Vezza, Karlene Kurtz, and Jaclyn Tremp after completing a 5K Turkey Trot race in Elmhurst, IL several years ago.
Christine (far left) with her daughters Erika Vezza, Karlene Kurtz, and Jaclyn Tremp after completing a 5K Turkey Trot race in Elmhurst, IL several years ago.

What was (or will be) the most important mile of your life? We want to know.

We’re going to make this an ongoing feature on the website (and potentially include some important miles in our yet-to-be-named third book, out in spring of 2015). Best way to submit is to email us your story with a picture: runmother {at} gmail {dot} com with “Most Important Mile” in the subject line. Please try to keep your mile stories under 300 words. Thank you!

3 responses to “The Most Important Mile of My Life: Christine Kurtz

  1. Last Sunday evening my (just 6) year old daughter asked me this….

    “Next weekend Mummy, when Daddy is home. Can he look after Zach (Mr 4), and can you and me go for a run. Can we take Dougal (our dog). Maybe we can try and run to the dam (my go to trail run 8kms esy, nice trail).”
    So new ground, totally Lily’s choice, will be covered tomorrow. So Saturday run with Miss 6, Sunday 23kms trail run for training…..

    The biggest gift to our kids!

  2. I loved this one! Thank you so much for sharing. From a mother runner of 4 kids ages 5, 8, 10, 11. They are doing some races and we keep them fun for the kids. I so want to keep running with them as they grow old. 🙂 This one really made me smile. Have a great week!

  3. Love this entry! As a mama to three girls 6, 4, and 2. I would love to instill a healthy lifestyle and maybe a a love of running in them. :)) My middle daughter just asked start running with me so we are trying to go once a week as a family. I love it! Your family is an inspiration for me!

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