Lauren Kuhns at the Humpy’s Marathon Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017 in Anchorage, Alaska. She won the race — and her first marathon — with a time of 3 hours, 17 minutes and 37 seconds. (Photo provided)

Lauren Kuhns at the Humpy’s Marathon Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017 in Anchorage, Alaska. She won the race — and her first marathon — with a time of 3 hours, 17 minutes and 37 seconds. (Photo provided)

Kuhns wins Humpy’s Marathon

Running in her first marathon ever — and her first run more than 18 miles — 2017 Homer High School graduate Lauren Kuhns exceeded the expectations of any rookie distance runner. Not only did she finish Sunday’s Anchorage Runfest Humpy Marathon straight through without stopping, she won it. In the women’s event, Kuhns finished with a time of 3 hours, 17 minutes and 37 seconds, almost 14 minutes ahead of second-place winner Hannah Booher.

The youngest child of Bridget and Lary Kuhns, Lauren said one of the biggest thrills of winning was a congratulatory phone call she got from her family.

“Just to hear your family tell you how proud of you they are is an accomplishment in itself. Family is your number one priority,” she said. “Just making them happy and knowing they’re proud of you is super heart warming.”

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Kuhns said that when she got to the race start, at first the group of elite women runners intimidated her.

“All of them looked like those crazy runners who live, eat, breathe running marathons. I was like, ‘Oh my God, Lauren. What are you getting yourself into? These girls are ridiculous,’” she said.

But she decided not to be intimdated, Kuhns said.

“When you’re in Rome, do like the Romans do. I’m going to act like they do.”

That might have meant putting on even more of an act. Kuhns considers herself primarily a long-distance swimmer, and took up track and long-distance running with the Mariners to help her swimming. For her daily training, she swam, ran and did weight training before going to work at Carmen’s Gelato, alternating distances.

“Then wake up the next morning and do it again,” she said.

Swimming helped build up strength with less impact on joints, Kuhns said — something that made the Anchorage marathon on hard pavement less painful. Still, Kuhns said she felt the impact. Enduring the marathon meant psyching herself out, she said.

“Since I’m a swimmer, and I’m a distance swimmer, I have a lot of endurance and a high pain tolerance. I’m able to like kind of shut off that part of my head that says ‘Lauren you should probably stop. That hurts,’” she said. “It’s like thinking about something else. Let’s think about dogs or what you’re going to eat after you finish this race. Think about things you’re going to do and other goals other than my quadriceps are going to seize up at any time now.”

Lauren credited her success to something her mother told her.

“My momma always said I have the heart of a horse,” Lauren said.

Bridget Kuhns also has been her daughter’s biggest fan. Before the race, Lauren said her mom fussed over her. A runner and swimmer, Bridget Kuhns also has been a role model for her daughter and a strong supporter, driving her to training and races.

“It’s like watching Seahawk fans,” Kuhns said of her mother. “All of sudden I hear this person half way in the race screaming ‘Go Lauren.’ Who is it? It’s my mom.”

Training and competing also has been easier for one reason, Kuhns said: the simple joy of athleticism. She varies her running routine by finding new locations, like running from Homer to Anchor Point or driving to Soldotna to run on the Tsalteshi Trails.

“A lot of people will ask ‘How do you do that? Why do you that. It sounds horrible,’” Kuhns said. “To me, running and swimming and being active is what makes me happy. It’s the funnest thing. I enjoy doing these things.”

Kuhn’s marathon time comes with another win: it qualifies her to run in the Boston Marathon. She will be closer to doing that next spring — at least geographically. On Wednesday, Kuhns left to start the fall semester at Assumption College, Worcester, Mass., where she competes on a scholarship with the swim team. Kuhns’ Assumption College swim coach said the track coach heard about her running prowess and asked her if she wants to run long-distance track there. She’ll do that, too. There’s one thing Lauren Kuhns won’t get, though. Working at Carmen’s Gelato, she’s surrounded by the delicious tastes of owner Carmen Ricciardi’s artisan dairy treat — but she can’t eat it, she said. Kuhns is allergic to dairy products.

Reach Michael Armstrong at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

More in Sports

Jeff Helminiak / Peninsula Clarion
Sam Spencer, Erik Route and Josiah Brown, all of Cooper Landing, near the finish of Sunday’s 20-kilometer classic race at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna.
Tour of Tsalteshi sees record turnout

In its fourth year at the trail system just outside of Soldotna, the Tour had record turnout of 136 finishers.

Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS 
A great gray owl perches in an aspen tree on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Refuge notebook: Winter is the season for finding great gray owls

Winter can be a fantastic time to observe owls. Owls can be… Continue reading

The Homer Mariner hockey team celebrates back to back Division II state hockey championship wins, after defeating the Palmer Moose 3-2 in overtime Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 at the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Tim Rockey/Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman)
Mariners defend Division II state hockey title

Homer avenges 2019 loss by topping Palmer 2-3 in overtime

Salt marshes are important food sources for brown bears. As we see an earlier start to the growing season or increased plant growth, bears will likely benefit from them even more. (Photo by Michael Hannam/NPS)
Refuge Notebook: Could bears benefit from changing coastal marshes?

Flying over the Cook Inlet coast, you can look down and see… Continue reading

A day on Kachemak Bay. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Water taxi talking

Reporters spend a lot of time talking to people: people they don’t… Continue reading

Homer's Hannah Hatfield looks for a teammate to pass to under pressure from Nikiski's Avery White during a Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 basketball game at the Alice Witte Gymnasium in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Homer hoops sweep Nikiski; boys fall to Seward

Homer girls sail through Thursday and Saturday games

Homer's Zoe Stonorov skies the girls 5-kilometer classic race on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 at the Lookout Mountain Trails near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Debbie Delker)
Sports in brief

General announcements All spectators must be on the player guest list. Two… Continue reading

Phil Basargin 5-year-old Maxim Basargin around the ice Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021 during the Skate the Lake event on Beluga Lake in Homer, Alaska. The free skating event was hosted for the community by the Homer Hockey Association. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Homerites take to the lake in skate event

Homer Hockey Association hosted Skate the Lake for the community

A red-breasted nuthatch looks over its shoulder between bites of suet in a hanging-cage style feeder. (Photo by Todd Eskelin/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Social distancing is not just for humans

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that hits our news feeds often.… Continue reading

Most Read