Wellness

Local Woman Trains For 50-Mile Race, Despite Its Cancellation

even at 4am, Mackenzie Deffenbaugh can be found up and running

Jennifer Janiak, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Mackenzie Deffenbaugh, a local mom and full-time employee with Eau Claire County, is out running as early as 4am to train for a race she is committed to completing – even though it was cancelled due to COVID-19.
MOM ON THE RUN: Mackenzie Deffenbaugh, a local mom and full-time employee with Eau Claire County, is out running as early as 4am to train for a race she is committed to completing – even though it was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Imagine you’ve unexpectedly woken up to find it is pitch black outside. When you glance out your window, you notice it’s slightly raining. You roll over to check your alarm clock and discover it’s only 4am. What do you do? You might sigh in relief that it isn’t time to get up yet, burrow into your covers, and fall back asleep.

That’s not true for Mackenzie Deffenbaugh, a local runner. While the majority of people are still nestled in bed, Deffenbaugh – a mother of three young children and full-time employee with Eau Claire County – is out running. She runs rain or shine, hot or cold, and even in the middle of a global pandemic. Deffenbaugh has found a passion for running; it helps clear her mind, gives her quiet time to think and put life back in perspective. She also runs because she’s determined. Deffenbaugh is training for a long-distance race – running while everyone is sleeping so as to not sacrifice quality family time.

Deffenbaugh started running long distance just a handful of years ago. In fact, she ran her first marathon in 2016 and discovered she thoroughly enjoyed it. After running several more long-distance races, she registered for the 2020 Titletown Ultra where she planned to run 50 miles. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Titletown Ultra was cancelled. That didn’t deter Deffenbaugh. She maintained her existing training schedule, charted her own course and will run 50 miles in Eau Claire on the same day the Titletown Ultra was scheduled – June 27. This will be Deffenbaugh’s first 50-mile run. As part of her training schedule, she completed 31 miles a month ago.

... it helps clear her mind, gives her quiet time to think & put life back in perspective.

Although there won’t be other racers to motivate Deffenbaugh or a crowd to cheer her on, she has friends who will run each six-mile loop with her. As for motivation – Deffenbaugh has proven she will follow through on whatever she sets her mind to. She’s found support from her family and the running community. Her goal is to complete the run in under 12 hours and be home in time for dinner.

Deffenbaugh proves to be an inspiration for others. In fact, her son was proud to share a running award he received recently. Deffenbaugh encourages others to find an activity that brings joy and helps them connect with other people. She says that you won’t know what you can accomplish until you try. In her positive manner, she said – find your thing!