By Savanah Mandeville
As a lifelong runner, Caroline Capehart says running is a natural addition to her busy schedule.
“I am a mom of three active boys and try to show them how hard work pays off every way that I can. I get up between 4-5 am to get my run in so that I have the rest of the day to be a mom, wife, teacher, cross country/track coach, chef, taxi, maid, housekeeper, and all of the millions of other things moms do,” she said.
“It is the only alone time that I have and while I do it for myself, it helps everyone around me,” she added. “I can’t imagine how cranky I’d be if I didn’t run!”
While running has always been a part of her life in one way or another, it was in 2013 that she took the leap and trained for and ran her first full marathon. And although she admits the experience was tough, she was hooked.
By 2016, she had qualified for her first Boston Marathon.
“I promised my husband that if I could just run Boston, I wouldn’t run marathons anymore,” she said. “That has turned out to be a big fat lie. I have qualified for Boston every year since and hope to continue my streak.”
In fact, Caroline loves running marathons so much she decided to bring others along for the ride. Four years ago, she started a running program at Frank Layden Elementary School in Frontenac, Kansas, where she teaches fifth grade.
“The students run twice a week throughout the school year with the intention of completing an entire marathon — 26.2 miles — by the end of the year,” she said. “I came up with the idea while running. After researching the idea, there are many schools that have similar programs. I was hoping for 50 students the first year, and 124 signed up. I had no idea the idea would be so well received, so I’ve continued the program with more and more kids signing up each year.”
As a teacher, Caroline has had such a positive impact on her school and community that when she had to do the Boston Marathon virtually last year due to COVID-19, everyone came together to support her.
“I wasn’t planning on doing the virtual marathon, but two days before, I thought, ‘I have nothing else to do.’ I got the idea to run by my students’ houses, so I went through my grade book and I found every single kid’s address and mapped out my route. I have a messaging system that I messaged all the parents and gave them a 30-minute window around their house in their neighborhood, and since we had been on Zoom for months, said if they wanted to come out and wave, they could.”
Many did come out — with signs and music. In fact, one of Caroline’s cousins even contacted the fire department, police department and the local news.
“The news station followed me for some of the run. In Frontenac, they had a parade, and everybody was spaced down Main Street and they had a police escort for me!”
That run has come to be known in the area as the “SEK Lemonade Marathon,” inspired by the famous aphorism: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
“I was so surprised and honored!” she said. “I feel so grateful to live in a town where people are so kind and supportive.”