CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC/Gray News) – Jennifer Smith just put her name in the record books this week.
At 346 pounds, the Quad Cities woman set the world record for heaviest female to complete a marathon. The previous record was held by a 288-pound woman.
Smith nearly lost her leg in an accident in 2013 and decided to get involved in races. It was difficult for a woman her size.
"When I started trying to get on my feet and walk, I got into 5Ks. I was highly frustrated that I couldn’t find shirts big enough and there weren’t many plus-sized people out there,” Smith told KWQC.
“So, I became an advocate and pushed for more 5Ks and to get larger sizes and get more people active. And once I started doing that, I decided 'why not push myself to my limits?'"
It didn’t all happen at once.
Through training, she found she was slowly improving.
"Then you feel so much better,” she said. “I found I had so much more energy, I was ready to go."
Still, when it was time to run the marathon, Smith had never run more than eight miles at a time.
Her goal was to finish in under 12 hours.
When it got tough during the race, Smith remembered why she was doing it.
"I just kept thinking, I'm out here with a message and what I'm trying to prove,” she said. “Not only am I trying to set a record, but I'm trying to teach people that you can push your limits, never give up, and you can do anything you put your mind to."
In the end, Smith just wanted to help others be their best.
"I just want people to know one foot in front of the other, just keep pushing yourself every day!"
It worked for Smith. She finished the marathon in 11 hours and 50 minutes.
Smith said it won’t end there.
She's hoping to complete a 50K next year. That’s 31 miles if you’re keeping score at home.
And it’s a full five miles farther than the marathon she just completed.