Paukert, Carlson tackle Chicago Marathon

Webster City High School graduates Steph Carlson (left) and Brenna Paukert pose together following Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. Running her second marathon, Paukert placed 11,849th out of 44,476 participants. Carlson, in her third marathon, was 17,117th. Submitted photo

WEBSTER CITY — Brenna Paukert will get married on Saturday and as an early wedding present to herself she was able to check off a goal this past weekend.

It’s the type of goal only other runners could truly appreciate.

The 2013 Webster City High School graduate spent her Sunday running 26.2 miles through the streets of the Windy City as one of the 44,476 entrants in the Chicago Marathon. Her goal was quite simple and this is something non-runners will probably appreciate.

“My goal for sure was to not get sick,” Paukert, who will become Brenna Strawhacker this weekend when she ties the knot with her fiance, Austin, said as she chuckled. “But I felt strong and actually ran it at full capacity and gave it my all.”

An avid runner for years — she was a stalwart on the Webster City girls’ varsity cross country team for four years — Paukert completed Sunday’s race in 3 hours and 53 minutes, a 14-minute drop from her finishing time at the Des Moines Marathon last October. She placed 11,849th overall and was the 3,209th woman to cross the finish line among the 20,612 that were entered on Sunday.

Brenna Paukert, a 2013 WCHS graduate, competes in Sunday’s Chicago Marathon with a smile on her face. Submitted photo

Paukert, a Drake University graduate who works for the Girl Scouts of Great Iowa and resides in Des Moines, had a small pack of fans to push her along the course. Her soon-to-be husband, as well as her sister, Sarah Paukert, and mother, Cindy Schieber, raced all over the city to see her at various checkpoints.

“Austin and my mom and sister are my top supporters for sure,” she said. “They’re the crazy ones … they mapped out the train rout and I think I saw them six times, which is insane.”

At the finish line, Paukert found another familiar face and runner in fellow WCHS graduate Steph Carlson, who placed 17,117th in a time of 4:10:08.

“We trained together last summer and then she convinced me to put my name in (the lottery) for Chicago with her,” Paukert said of Carlson. “So it was fun to see her at the race.”

Paukert’s dabbling in serious distance running began when she took up half-marathons, but eventually those were no longer a challenge. So the obvious next step was to tackle a full marathon and she had plenty of support.

Submitted photo

“I had some friends that were training and it had never been on my bucket list, but I got caught up in the moment and tought I’d try (the Des Moines Marathon) and see how it goes,” she said. “I really liked the training and the super long runs on the weekends.”

Paukert began preparing for Chicago back in June and followed a 16-week plan in the lead up to the marathon. She ran four days a week and went as far as 20 miles on a long run. She also hit the weight room to build muscle in an attempt to fend off potential injuries.

“I have a pretty solid group of friends that I run with in Des Moines at 5 a.m., so that helped,” she said. “I did a couple of spring races just for fun and then when I knew I was in for Chicago I figured I might as well keep going.”

Admittedly sore the day after the feat, Paukert says she’ll take some time to rest and enjoy her wedding and honeymoon. After that, who knows? But she says she’s not about to stop running now.

“I’ll try to get out for a shake out run sometime this week,” she said. “The wedding and honeymoon will give me a forced two-week break, which will be good for me. But I enjoy (distance running) and like spending time with my friends.”

In other words, marathons probably haven’t seen the last of her.