SHADY COVE — However daunting a 26-mile marathon may have seemed, the fear of letting any of her 15 siblings down in an attempt to beat a world record seemed far more unbearable for Allison Schmidt.
The 33-year-old Shady Cove resident was one of a 16-member sibling group raised in Oshkosh, Wis., to run the recent Community First Fox Cities Marathon on Sept. 20 near their hometown.
The race, if verified by Guinness World Records officials, will be a new world record for the number of siblings who compete in a marathon. The current record has been held by a 15-member sibling group from Dublin, Ireland, since October 2007.
Schmidt and her 10 brothers and five sisters tackled the 26-mile trek in less than six hours, with Schmidt garnering the second-to-last position at 5.5 hours.
To beat the world record, the siblings had to complete the race in less than eight hours.
The last American sibling group to hold the record was the Weisse family, which also hailed from Oshkosh and grew up with Schmidt's siblings.
The Weisse family earned the esteemed title at the same Fox Cities race in 2007 by beating another family, one with 12 siblings, also from Dublin. Its title, however, was taken just five weeks later by a larger Dublin brood.
"The first family in Dublin had 12. Then the Weisses from Oshkosh had 13. Five weeks later, the second family from Dublin had 15," Schmidt said. "We had 16.
"But if everything checks out, we'll have the new record until a bigger family comes along to beat it."
Now all adults, Schmidt's siblings hail from seven different states, ranging from the Midwest to Oregon and California. Her father is deceased but her mother still lives in the family's hometown.
Schmidt said most people she meets are mesmerized by her family's size — before the topic of a 26-mile run ever comes up.
"I get all the questions. Are you Mormon, are you Catholic, were there any multiples. ... I usually just save them the time and say, 'Yeah, we're Catholic and there weren't any twins'," Schmidt said with a laugh.
"Growing up it was all that we knew so to us it was normal to always have little kids running around. I baby-sat very young and learned responsibility, but my family was pretty normal."
Guinness officials on Monday said Schmidt's family, with the surname of Kapral, could not be verified or listed as the world-record holder until a list of qualifying criteria is submitted, including birth certificates and proof that the siblings competed in the marathon.
Unfortunately, the newly published record book came out the same week as the race.
"So the other family will be listed as the record holder for a year, even when we get it," Schmidt said.
She said the satisfaction of her large family all working toward the same goal was enough of a record for her.
Perhaps a certain Irish town will come up with a larger family, Schmidt quipped.
"For now, it's like the two towns are dueling because it's gone back and forth between Dublin and Oshkosh," she said.
"It's fun to talk about at least ... must be something in the water."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.