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Running is more than a sport for Coeur d'Alene woman

By Derinda Moerer


Among more than 40,000 runners, joggers and walkers finishing the 30th Lilac Bloomsday Run was Kristine Newby, 52, who ran the Boston Marathon a month before.  Running has not always been her passion.  Until four years ago, she considered it good for everyone in her family except her.  Now it is an important part of her life, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  She says she now runs with God.

“Yesterday I ran seven miles across the prairie and, wow!” she said. “I don’t experience that in a car.  I saw the beauty of God’s creation.  I wave and smile at people driving by.  It may be the only smile they see for the day.”

Although she coached a grade school cross-country team, she had not liked running. 

Kristine Newby and her daughter, Kara, at the end of a marathon

Then a post card came from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Team in Training. It offered to provide training to run or walk a marathon to raise funds for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research, and patient services.

Instead of tossing the card, she was drawn toward the competition.  Feeling God urging her to do the program,  Kristine returned the card and changed her life.

“I felt I needed to do this, even though no one in my family had leukemia or lymphoma,” said Kristine, a member of Lake City Community Church in Coeur d’Alene.

Her oldest daughter, Kari, 26, then in Moscow, agreed to join her. LLS coaches worked with volunteers in Spokane, too far for either, so they trained individually for their first marathon—the 2002 Portland Marathon.

“Because I trained alone, I used my running time as prayer time,” Kristine said. “If I had a problem, while running I talked with God and figured it out.”

Through the months of training, she never lost sight of her commitment to raise funds for LLS.  Her husband, Vern, helped her raise funds.

“I’d pick up money while running—a reminder that God provides the fund,” said Kristine, who raised more than $4,000 and finished in under five hours.

Although she considered quitting after that, she continued to run.  She has run the Portland Marathon every year with Kari, improving her time each year. In 2005, finishing in 3 hours and 55 minutes qualified her for the Boston Marathon. Kari qualified every year, so mother and daughter began training for that.

“We bonded as a result of running,” she said.

Kristine had heard of the Boston Marathon since she was a little girl. Her three brothers ran, and names such as Gerry Lindgren, Don Kardong, Steve Prefontaine, Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter were frequently mentioned at the dinner table. 

After running the Boston Marathon on April 17 in four hours, 19 minutes, she wrote by her number on a wall, “A dream come true.”

Kristine said, “People were cheering along the route, some ringing cow bells, other blowing whistles. They had matching shirts. Children held out pieces of oranges for us.”

While races are exhilarating, training has taught her life lessons. It’s hard to make the time and effort to run on a regular basis.  Mental discipline propels her.

“Marathon training trained me to do things I might not want to do, but would benefit me in the long run,” Kristine said. “I go on faith that it will be good for me in the future, if not today, so I am not discouraged.”

She wasn’t a runner while rearing her five children, but knew the importance of the sport and encouraged her children to run in elementary school. Kari joined Hamblen Elementary School’s cross-country team in Spokane. 

When the family moved to Coeur d’Alene, Hayden Lake Elementary did not have a cross-country program. So Kristine helped Kari start one in 1987.  Three years later, Dalton and Ramsey elementary schools added the sport, so they started an elementary district meet, which continues to add schools.

“My mom’s efforts have directly or indirectly affected thousands of children in this area, because she saw how much fun and enjoyment running gave her daughter,” said Kari, who ran at Coeur d’Alene High and at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.

Kari’s siblings also ran. Her brother, Travis, ran cross country and track, finishing fourth in state his senior year in high school.  Despite an injury, he persevered with mental discipline and drive.

Her sister, Gina, excelled in pole vaulting in college until a fall.  Mindy ran track and cross country. Her youngest sister, Piper, at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., set the school steeple-chase record.

Kristine is proud of her children’s accomplishments and of the other Coeur d’Alene and Lake City high school graduates who continued running in college.

Kristine said seeing how the elementary school cross-country program developed has been “a God thing.”

“There were many latch-key kids with nobody at home. We gave them an hour of supervised activity and something to be a part of,” she said.

Kristine did it to help children, not because she loved to run. In a Christmas letter, she once wrote, “I can’t believe I’m coaching cross country when I hate running.”

Children assumed she enjoyed running because she participated in Bloomsday every year.  She said she went because they had a family reunion around Bloomsday activities. 

Kristine, her husband, five children, three brothers, their families and her 80-year-old father ran in Bloomsday again this year.

Even though no races are on the horizon, she still trains.