Kasey takes to running around the globe with ease.
Kuker, of Rochester, has completed the six World Marathon Majors — Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin, Tokyo and, finally, on April 23, London. She faced food poisoning and pandemic delays along the way.
Although it is an outstanding achievement to finish these six prestigious races, the fact that they are often entered through a lottery makes it even more difficult. Kuker is on the verge of completing another marathon goal — running a marathon in all 50 U.S. states. She has completed marathons across 49 states and will run the Anchorage, Alaska, marathon on June 17.
Kuker claims, “I am on track to become the 34th woman to complete a marathon under four hours in all 50 U.S. states.” “I’d be the 158th ever to achieve this feat.” It will have taken 12 years for her to complete the goal.
Kuker has completed 64 marathons in total, including 39 half-marathons. This is a little more than 2,189 kilometres, not including the training. This is more than the distance in a straight line from the west to east coasts of the U.S.
Kuker is an instructor at the Mayo Clinic for graduate medical education. She teaches transfusion medicine. She owns the band Branded: Hot Country and sings with them. She has also performed in musicals and is a mentor at Bolder Option.
She met “some wonderful individuals who love running” after she started her job at Mayo Clinic. Kuker was punished for running in high school because she played tennis. But the people who encouraged her to run 5-K and 10-K races almost every weekend.
She says, “I enjoyed the challenge, and it felt good to become faster and healthier, as well as fitter and more healthy.”
On May 1, 2011, Kuker ran her first marathon — The Big Sur International Marathon in California. The course, she says, is still in her top three of beauty and difficulty because it features steep rolling hills with ocean views and whales breaching.
“My friend registered for the race to surprise me. … I thought she was joking,” says Kuker.
Kuker’s longest run before her first marathon was 9 miles. Kuker and her friend ran the marathon together as charity runners raising money for Team America Cancer Society.
Kuker states, “It was a great honour to run this race supporting the American Cancer Society.” “Those who donated to the charity received ribbons that they could use to write down the names of their loved ones battling cancer or to remember those who lost their lives due to cancer. I put them all in my bag for race day and took them to the start.
Kuker’s first marathon was likely to be her last. But somehow, completing marathons became a habit.
She says, “After I finished my first marathon which I probably didn’t think I could do, I decided to run another one.”
Kuker earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She remembers how fun it was to watch the runners complete Grandma’s Marathon.
She says, “It dawned upon me that I could become one of these runners, and Grandma’s Marathon had to be my final and next marathon.” She didn’t know that she would qualify for the Boston Marathon when she finished her second marathon in 2012.
Kuker gets tattoos to mark each new marathon that she has completed.
She said, “I had only planned to run a full marathon and have one tattoo.” “I failed horribly at both.”
Kuker’s first marathon was marked with a small Highway 1 road sign and the number 26.2. She got a Highway 61 sign for Grandma’s Marathon. When she completed the Boston Marathon, she called its logo a Unicorn as a permanent tattoo.
Kuker lives in Upper Michigan with her family and works on a left-side tattoo. It will cover the entire length of her leg from her toes up to her top rib cage. “With the Pandemic, I am behind on a few tattoo appointments and 15 tattoos, but more will be added this winter,” says Kuker.
The running community fuels Kuker’s passion for marathons. It’s the people she’s met, the friends that have lasted a lifetime, and all the memories we’ve shared. This passion has brought me friends from all over the state and even around the globe.
Kuker, a runner herself, has been pacing races since 2015. She has walked 25 races, either half-marathons or 10 miles. She runs holding a sign with the finish time and minutes per mile on one side.
She says that runners who want to finish their race by or simultaneously with her will join her. I point out the aid stations, entertain them with stories and songs, and shout out motivational phrases while we battle the wind or climb hills together.
Although a marathon may be challenging, completing it can also be rewarding. Kuker believes that anyone can complete a marathon. Kuker says, “It is a process which will test both your physical and mental limitations and make you realise you can do more than you think you can.”
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