MOUNTAIN HOUSE, Calif. - A 37-year-old father who last year welcomed quintuplets just did something pretty remarkable to mark the first birthdays of Lincoln, Noelle, Grayson, Preston and Gabriella.
Earlier this month, Chad Kempel ran the annual Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, pushing the five 1 year olds in their five-seat mega stroller.
“To my knowledge, no one has ever done it,’’ said Kempel, who pounded the rain-soaked pavement for five hours and 31 minutes to complete the 26.2 miles.
But then, he took the running achievement a step further.
His wife, Amy, had carried the five babies for exactly 27 weeks and 3 days and Kempel wanted to honor her by running exactly 27.3 miles.
“(The marathon) was a challenge and people make these “wow” comments to me, but it was only a number of hours and nothing compared to what Amy has endured carrying and caring for all the kids,’’ he said. “Her marathon is much more difficult.”
Kempel was also trying to set a Guinness World Record when he ran the marathon. To do that, he paid the standard $5 entry fee to Guinness to create a “new record title suggestion."
They didn’t exactly have a “man pushes quintuplets in stroller in 26.2-mile marathon” category.
There are some categories that were kind of close, though.
Rob Forbes, who lives in the United Kingdom, holds the world record (2:43:11) for the fastest marathon (completed by a man) while pushing two children in a double stroller. He set the record last year.
And Ann Marie Cody set a world record (for females) last March when she completed the Modesto Marathon in 4:06:33 while pushing her triplets in their stroller.
Guinness said Kempel could set a record in his new category as long as he ran the Feb. 3 marathon in four hours and 45 minutes or less.
Half way through the race, he was on track to complete the Guinness requirement.
“I was nine minutes ahead for the Guinness record at the half-way point,’’ he said.
But at the 15-mile mark, there was some feeding that needed to be tended to and his pace slowed a bit.
He was calculating how much faster he’d need to run to set the record, while other racers snapped pictures of Kempel and the babies, encouraged him to step it up, and even helped pass him the baby's formula bottles.
Kempel said he might try to set the record another time, though it’s tough to find marathons that allow strollers.
And finding time to run with the five kids in the mega-stroller is tough. He only ran a total of five miles pushing the kids once before he hit the marathon course, he said.
Of course, marking the quintuplets’ birthdays wasn’t just about their dad completing a marathon.
The whole family, including their other daughters, 2-year-old Avery and 4-year-old Savannah, took a trip to the Oakland Zoo and the family and a few friends also celebrated with a cupcake party that had the colored frosting ending up just about everywhere except in the kid’s mouths.
KTVU first told the story of the quintuplets in late 2017 while Amy Kempel was in the hospital on bedrest about 25 weeks pregnant. Not long after, the babies were born on Jan. 11, 2018 by cesarean section, 13 weeks premature.
Each weighed under 3 pounds and spent 73 days in the hospital before they all settled into the family home in Mountain House in San Joaquin County.
The pregnancy was a result of a procedure known as intrauterine insemination. It’s different from in vitro fertilization because it’s less complex and invasive and also less expensive.
Before all the babies came home, hospital staff had warned the Kempels that telling the babies apart would be challenging, and the parents should consider color coding the children by painting each of their fingernails with a different color polish or putting name wrist bands on them.
But recognizing mellow Preston from saucer-eyed Lincoln was never an issue.
And telling Gabriella apart from Noelle wasn’t tough either. Gabriella was the smallest at birth, just 2.5 pounds, and is now the largest of the babies at nearly 25 pounds.
“She’s the one who usually rings the chow bell,’’’ said Kempel.
Noelle, the couple said, has undergone the biggest personality change. She can belt out some pretty ferocious cries, but also thrives on attention, probably more than any of her siblings.
The Kempels say watching the children grow and change and stay happy and healthy is a blessing, but the last year has been challenging and exhausting for sure.
The couple hasn't been able to go on an overnight “date,” in more than a year and finding time to color or do a puzzle with their older girls is sometimes impossible.
Even getting a simple question answered over the constant noise is tough. “It’s hard to even ask, ‘did you remember to get tomatoes?’” said Amy Kempel, smiling.