Why would anybody want to run a half marathon, let alone a full 26-mile marathon, Colleen DeBruin of Vicksburg, wondered to herself as she began training just to take off some extra pounds at the age of 50. Five years later, and a few pounds lighter, DeBruin found herself hitting the wall at the 18-mile marker of the Chicago Marathon in October.
“Later with three miles to go, I was struggling and just trying to finish the race,” she said. “It’s awful and wonderful at the same time. It takes everything you have to finish, and then some, which I did in five hours and fifty two minutes. I kept saying I’ll never do this again, but two weeks later, I’m thinking maybe I’ll try it just once more.”
She was supported in the race by four family members who also entered. Her son Kent, who holds a Vicksburg High School record in cross country and is now a tax attorney in Royal Oak, finished in 3:13.
Her daughters Kelsey, Kaitlin DeBruin Baker, and son-in-law Brad Baker, all ran the race to support their mom, finishing together at 4:17. These four are also VHS alums who have set individual athletic records at VHS. They have fun with running as they annually enter the Hearty Hustle in Vicksburg, wearing costumes of some sort. This year they came as the wedding party and won the Carl Bennett award for the most photographic and interesting entry.
There is a family history of running and setting records. Kent, a 2004 VHS grad, holds five records in track and was a state champion in the 800 meters. This was his fifth marathon, one of which was the 2013 Boston Marathon which was bombed.
Kaitlin, a 2006 grad, is the only Vicksburg female athlete to go to the state cross country and state track meet all four of her high school years. She also ran the same at Spring Arbor for four years. She married Brad Baker, a classmate at VHS who was an outstanding baseball player and college player at Spring Arbor.
Not to be outdone, Kelsey DeBruin, held the women’s pole vault record from 2007 until someone displaced her last spring and the two girls hold the record for the 4 x 1 sprint medley relay team together.
Colleen says she couldn’t aspire to run like this without the support of her husband Don. She took two years off the running track to go to Mexico while her husband helped build a Summit Polymers plant there. Upon their return in 2013, she got serious about running again. She had been a member of the Borgess Run Camp group for non-experienced runners and rejoined what she describes as a wonderful group of people.
It was perfect weather for the Marathon. Chicago and family support crews were out in record numbers to cheer the 40,000 runners on as they ran through 29 different neighborhoods and finished under the 6:30 limit to receive medals.