Julia Webb clocks fastest half marathon time while pushing a stroller
By Brittany Smith
Last November, pro-life runner Julia Webb set a new record for fastest time finishing a half-marathon while pushing a baby in a stroller. She did this at the Route 66 race in Tulsa, Okla. Webb pushed her then 10 month-old-daughter Gabby the entire 13.1 miles. She not only set a pending world record — she’s awaiting final confirmation from the Guinness World Records — but also won the women’s half-marathon overall. Her time was 1 hour, 21 minutes and 23 seconds. In February she also competed in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Atlanta.
Webb is a mother of three who recently joined Life Runners, the largest pro-life running group in the nation. Save the Storks spoke with her about motherhood, running and not giving up on your world-record dreams.
You set a world record in November along with your daughter Gabby. What have you been up to since then? Has COVID put a damper on running?
The last race they allowed before COVID was the Olympic Trials marathon, in late February. I came in 187 out of 511 women and was the only Life Runner who qualified for the trials. Since then I have been training and done virtual 5ks, as well as one race in Texas.
What made you decide to run your races with a stroller?
It really started from the moment I had a child. My first child was born in 2012, and at the time my husband was training a ton. So I was like what do I do? I had a running stroller and started running with her. I quickly realized I could run pretty fast with this stroller, and it was freedom. It was a free baby sitter, and you get stronger because you’re pushing weight. One day I was training and had a great run at the Nike training facility in Portland where we lived at the time. People there were cheering me on and I started thinking, ‘I wonder if there is a stroller record?’ I looked into it and then did a race where I set the Guinness World Record for a 10K race.* This has actually inspired other women to race with their kids in strollers as well.
*In 2014, she set the Guinness World Record for 10K while pushing a stroller, finishing in 38:15.
How long have you been part of Life Runners? What made you decide to be a pro-life runner?
I have been running with Life Runners for over a year. Previously I had been contracted by Nike as a coach at their athletic facilities in Portland. But I was looking for something different. I have always been pro-life but in the closet pro-life. So I Googled ‘pro-life running team’ and Life Runners came up. I got inspired. But Life Runners was actually really tough for me at first. It took a while for me to feel confident. I went from wearing Nike gear to gear that made a lot of people uncomfortable. But ultimately it was such a good decision — to run for something bigger than me, for all these unborn babies. I feel that God is working through the prayers I put in when I’m running and through the effort of those miles.
How do you train and parent at the same time?
You have to have a plan. My husband and I will make a plan for the week on Sunday nights. You have to carve out time to run – schedule it.
What would you say to other women out there facing an unplanned pregnancy and unsure of what to do?
I was one of those people, with my first two pregnancies I was terrified. I didn’t think I would be ready to have kids until we had certain things or we were in a more settled place. But there are resources, there are people to talk to, there are options. I pray for these moms facing this decision daily as I’m running.
What does running with Gabby show those in our culture who say you can’t have kids and pursue your dreams?
Honestly, I was also one of those people. I was terrified of that very thing. When I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter Joanie, I was in phenomenal shape. It wasn’t exactly planned. And I wanted to be running at a high level for a number of years. I thought this might be goodbye to my running days. But having the stroller was huge. And so many women have told me they were inspired by me running with a stroller.
I’ve run all of my personal bests after my kids were born.
Your mentality changes. You’re able to take on more. Your body is prepared and so much stronger. There have been so many people out there encouraging me when I race. Even when my kids were as young as 2 months I was out there. It is possible to continue having dreams athletically and saying yes to pregnancy.
Let other pro-life runners know about Life Runners. Check them out here and see if there is a chapter in your area.
Read more about moms who are pursuing their dreams with their kids.