They were certainly not the fastest runners on that postcard-perfect New York day.
But they were willed to the finish line by the love of family members who were there to run (and walk) through the streets of five city boroughs as well, and to join in the exhilarating experience of what is billed as the world’s largest marathon.
The Husk family from Bend — all five of them — ran the New York City Marathon earlier this month, all earning medals for finishing the annual race that includes more than 50,000 runners each November.
“It was so satisfying in the sense that we had this shared experience,” said Lee Lewis Husk, 66. “We all went to New York together, and we experienced one of the great marathons of the world.”
Lewis Husk ran the marathon along with her husband, Dave Husk, 68, their daughter Lindsey Husk, 35, son Casey Husk, 32, and youngest son Jacob Husk, 31. Jacob — a former cross-country runner at Summit High — finished in a respectable 3 hours, 45 minutes, 1 second (8,999th place overall), while the rest of the family needed about six hours or longer to finish.
Just getting accepted for the marathon was a feat in itself. Only about 16 percent of those who apply for the lottery get into the New York City Marathon, according to the race website.
Lindsey Husk had an entry from 2017 that she had deferred to this year. So Dave had the idea to try to get the rest of the family in to join Lindsey.
“I got to thinking that this would be a lot of fun for a family,” Dave said. “We call it an ‘MEA’ — Most Excellent Adventure.”
Against the odds, Dave and his two sons won entries. Lee, however, did not, but she had alternative options for getting into the race. The New York Road Runners, the organization that operates the marathon, offers entry to those who raise funds for charity. Lee joined the NYRR Team for Kids charity and raised $2,600, which landed her a spot in the marathon.
It was the first marathon for Jacob and Casey, but Lindsey and her parents had run numerous marathons. The New York City race would be the 11th marathon for Lee, the fourth for Dave and the fifth for Lindsey. Lee, Dave and Lindsey had also run the New York City Marathon before.
This time, the whole family would be there together.
“Then we started training,” Dave said. “Lee and I just pounded the roads around Central Oregon. It’s pretty demanding. One day a week late in the training you’ll run for 3½ or four hours. But I’m so glad I did it because during the event I was pretty comfortable until about the last 2 miles.”
Aside from the long odds of getting into the marathon, the travel logistics were also somewhat complicated. Dave, a former director of development at Les Schwab who is now retired, and Lee, a freelance writer, still live Bend. While their kids grew up in Bend, they all now live elsewhere. Lindsey lives in Portland, where she works in cybersecurity at PGE, Casey lives in Port Orford on the southern Oregon Coast and is a design engineer, and Jacob is a biochemist in Salt Lake City.
But Dave’s sister-in-law has an apartment in New York City, and the family was able to meet and stay there before and after the marathon.
Lee — who graduated from Bend High in 1970 and has been an avid runner since her 20s — developed a foot injury during training for the marathon. Under normal circumstances, she said, she might have decided not to race. But she did not want to miss the chance to experience the event with her family.
Casey was unable to train for the marathon for various reasons, so he stuck with his mother during the race. The pair walked the first half of the marathon, staying just ahead of the street sweepers following the last of the participants, according to Lee.
“About halfway through we decided to see if we could run a little bit,” Lee said. “At that point we picked up the pace and we started running by some other people. It was kind of disheartening to be at the very back.
“But the thing that’s really cool about it is there are up to 2 million spectators,” she added. “Most of them don’t care too much if you’re struggling because they’re having fun. They have street dances and bands going. They’re kind of there to support everybody who races. The marathon supports the very last runner. There were people and police everywhere. It was incredible.”
Mother and son crossed the finish line together, Casey in 7:14:43 and Lee in 7:14:44.
“The marathon was never about time for me,” Casey said. “So it didn’t matter when I finished it. With my mom’s injury, it made sense to just stick with her to the finish.
“It was seven hours of bonding,” he added with a laugh.
Lee remembers seeing the lit-up Manhattan skyline as they approached the finish line in Central Park in the dark.
“It was just spectacular,” Lee said. “Casey said, ‘Mom, the fast people didn’t get to come into the park at night.’”
While Lee and Casey ran together in the back of the throng of runners, Dave and Lindsey were farther ahead, running together for about the first 11 miles before Lindsey developed stomach cramps and dropped back.
Dave finished in 5:59:30, barely reaching his goal of under six hours. Lindsey crossed the line in 6:45:41. Jacob had already showered at his aunt’s place and was back at the finish line to greet his family.
“I think the most rewarding thing was when we got back to my sister-in-law’s apartment, and everybody had finished,” Dave said. “Both boys and Lindsey, too, were just really elated that they had accepted the challenge and had finished. We were really proud of all three of the kids. They got it done and finished.”
Lindsey called it an “amazing experience,” even though it was her third time running the New York City Marathon.
“My mom is the one who has always had the running bug, and she pushed us all to do it,” Lindsey said. “I’ve had really good luck with the lottery. But for all of us to do it, it was lots of luck.”
She added that she might stick to the half-marathon distance for a while.
Dave and Lee say they might explore applying for other high-profile marathons — such as Berlin or the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. — but they know that running the New York City Marathon with all three of their kids was likely a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
“This was a unique opportunity, probably never to repeat itself given the low chance of getting into the marathon lottery and having five of us able to take time from work to travel together to New York,” Lee said. “Plus, there’s an age factor — I’m not sure how many more marathons Dave and I have in us.”