We're excited to share that Neely Gracey, our Head of Running, Pro Runner, and mom of two, has broken her own personal best and the Guinness World Record for fastest stroller mile time in 5:24 with the Roam Crossover Stroller. That's over 30 seconds faster than the previous record of 5:57!
Here's a video showing her record breaking attempt:
Read on to hear more about what this record breaking attempt has been like for Neely and her thoughts on what's next for her.
World Record: BackstoryCan you tell us a little about yourself & career to this point as a professional runner?
Hi! I am Neely Spence Gracey, mom of two boys (five and two), co-author of Breakthrough Women’s Running, founder and coach for Get Running Coaching, Head of Running for Guava Family, and 4x Olympic trials qualifier.
I am thriving while wearing lots of hats, each of which I am very passionate about. My focus has shifted from being an all-in professional athlete to an elite mother runner who is enjoying the journey of running fast while also hoping to inspire and support other runners.
When (and how) were you first inspired to attempt breaking the world record mile time with a stroller?
"My focus has shifted from being an all-in professional athlete to an elite mother runner who is enjoying the journey of running fast while also hoping to inspire and support other runners."
Last summer, I saw the men’s mile stroller record was broken. When I looked up what the women’s record was I couldn’t stop thinking about going for it. When Guava reached out to see if I was interested in trying the Roam Crossover Stroller, I knew if it worked for me, I would propose to them using it for the record attempt.Why did you feel Guava was the right brand partner and jogging stroller for the record?
First, I loved the Roam Crossover Stroller. It worked so well for me and my son. The features like airless tires and the remote locking front wheel were new to me and made the stroller all the more appealing.
Once I knew I loved the stroller, then I told Guava that I was interested in partnering to tackle this record and their enthusiasm made me even more excited for this goal.
Scott, the CEO, even flew into Denver to support me during the record attempt and he played with the kids and took pictures and was such a positive and encouraging presence. He took care of hiring a videographer and photographer, so all I needed to do was run.
Them adding me as the Head of Running to Guava allows the partnership to continue beyond the record attempt and we have a lot of fun and exciting things coming soon, stay tuned.
Chasing the Record: Training Workouts & ChallengesWhat did training to break the world record with a stroller look like both physically and mentally?
Here’s the training program I used to prepare for the stroller mile record attempt:
- Base Miles: an easy paced ~15-20 mile run with the Roam Crossover Stroller each week
- Early Sessions: 8x200m and then an easier 400m pace
- Advanced Sessions: 8x400m at goal effort and then an easier 400m pace
- Record Week Session: Running a full mile in 5:45 so I knew I could break the record (which was 5:57)
Technically, the biggest challenge was that I had to learn how to run the turns on the track while keeping the front wheel locked and in contact with the surface at all times. As well, I needed to run with both hands on the handle bar to maintain control per Guinness' safety standards, so I essentially had to adjust my form to run with only my legs and not my arms.
Also, my youngest son, Rome, who rode in the stroller for the record and training runs, doesn’t like the track as much as the bike paths we usually run. So, that was a little challenging during the track workouts since he was getting bored compared to when we typically run on paths and he sees other people, bikes, animals, trees, cars and other stuff he’s entertained by.
Making History: A New Stroller Mile World RecordWere there any specific strategies you employed during the race to maintain pace?
I ran pretty consistent splits and maintained momentum out there pretty well. It was a little hot that evening so I did feel the heat kick in the last two laps which made me feel a little fatigued but I felt strong and well prepared.What does breaking the previous record, and by such a large margin, mean to you?
I loved combining my racing goals with being a parent. The whole thing felt bigger than me, it was about having the ability to show the mother runner community that yes, you can still have goals post baby. Find joy in running and bring your kids with you if that’s what it takes to get out the door because it teaches them valuable lessons for leading a healthy and active lifestyle.
Can you share any memorable moments from your record-breaking run, either during the race or afterward?
Find joy in running and bring your kids with you if that’s what it takes to get out the door because it teaches them valuable lessons for leading a healthy and active lifestyle.
It was truly such a special night to share with my family. When I finished I felt a rush of emotion and gratitude and did a spontaneous victory lap to wave and thank everyone for cheering me on.What kind of support did you receive from your family and team throughout this journey, and how important was it to have their backing?
My husband/coach was all in and knew how special this goal was to me. My oldest, Athens, is shy and doesn’t like to be the center of attention, so it worked out that Rome, my littlest was the one who rode in the Roam and Athens had no hard feelings. My sisters, my parents, my inlaws, my grandparents, and my friends were all so encouraging and couldn’t wait to hear the news after!
Looking ForwardHow do you hope your achievement will inspire other moms, athletes, or individuals to pursue their goals and dreams?
I know that running has been there for me in many different ways over the years. From professional running, and it being my full time job, to just enjoying running 1-2 miles a day during the third trimester, I have been able to let go of all comparison and just enjoy my own journey with running.
I want that message to go out to all other moms to feel their journey is worthy and whether it's for alone time, personal goals, or performance related, it all deserves time and priority.Did breaking this record with a stroller teach you any valuable lessons or insights that you can apply to other aspects of your life or athletic career?
Enjoy yourself! I loved chasing the goal because it was so fun. It felt authentic to me because I run with my kids all the time, and it brought me a lot of joy to pursue this goal with them.
Now I will apply this same lesson to my future racing plans to do what excites me and sounds fun because that’s a recipe that sets me up for success.What's next for you after this record?
I'm taking a few weeks off to conclude my season, then I will just ease back into runs and base miles. I will start my training for the Olympic Trials marathon in September, and I plan a few half marathons later in the fall.