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A woman paused during a 106-mile ultra-marathon to breastfeed her 3-month-old son

INSIDER logoINSIDER 9/12/2018 cpraderio@businessinsider.com (Caroline Praderio)
a group of people standing on top of a mountain: Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.JPG © Provided by Business Insider Inc Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.JPG

  • Sophie Power recently ran the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a 106-mile race in the Alps, three months after giving birth to her son.
  • 16 hours into the race, she met her husband and son and stopped to breastfeed.
  • A photo of her nursing session has been shared on social media, attracting hundreds of comments.

When runner Sophie Power paused 16 hours into a 106-mile ultra-marathon, it wasn't just for a well-deserved rest. In fact, it was anything but, as Power stopped to breastfeed her 3-month-old son.

Now, a photo of Power's mid-race nursing session is attracting attention on social media. 

Power, 36, is a mother of two who currently lives in London. She began ultra-running nearly a decade ago, she told INSIDER in an interview, and she had long wanted to compete in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a 170-kilometer (roughly 106-mile) race that winds through the Alps, climbing more than 32,000 feet in elevation.

When she began the 2018 UTMB on August 31, it had only been three months since she gave birth.

But Power hiked the mountainous course all the way to a stopping point at Courmayeur, where she could finally meet her husband and infant son to nurse, People.com reported on Wednesday. 

"Cormac usually feeds every three hours and it took me 16 to get to Courmayeur, where he could first meet me, so I was hand expressing everywhere I could en route," Power told People. "I was so relieved he was hungry."

Alexis Berg, a photographer for the running social network Strava, snapped a photo of Power nursing Cormac. When Strava shared the image to Instagram on Monday, it was met with hundreds of largely supportive comments. 

"What a beautiful message of giving to our children while also giving to and fighting for our ourselves and our goals and passions," one person wrote."

"Moms are hardcore," another commented. 

Here's a closer look at the story behind the image.

Power prepared for the race during her pregnancy, and took it a bit slower than usual

Power told INSIDER she was nervous about participating in the UTMB so soon after giving birth, but she had also prepared thoroughly: She did weight-training and low-impact cardio to stay strong during her pregnancy. After giving birth, she took almost eight weeks off from running because, she said, her body wasn't ready for it yet. 

Once she was on the course, she moved at a slower, more cautious pace than usual. She also said she placed additional focus on her food consumption, since the body needs an extra 450 to 500 calories every day to support breast milk production, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

But slowing down had its benefits, too. 

"Normally in an ultra, you're trying to do your best time-wise and you're running and you're pushing — this race I couldn't do any of that," she said. "Because I had to keep my pace slow I really had the time to look around in the mountains, to take photos, to chat to everyone on the race, to take time for myself at aid stations, to chat to volunteers."

At the time the photo was snapped, it was the longest she'd been apart from her son

a group of people standing on a lush green hillside: UTMB race.JPG © Provided by Business Insider Inc UTMB race.JPG

The first thing Power wanted to do when she arrived at her stopping point in Courmayeur was to cuddle with her son.

"The 16 hours between the start line and Courmayeur was the longest I'd been apart from him," she said. "So it was a little bit emotional. I took a few minutes for myself just to be in the moment with him and then it was straight on to my checklist."

In addition to nursing, she had to handle all her normal mid-race tasks: Eating (with help from her husband, since she had no hands free while breastfeeding), changing the batteries in her headlamp, charging her phone and watch. 

Then she forged ahead. 

"The first goal was to just let me go and have some fun in the mountains overnight," Power told INSIDER. "The second was to get to Courmayeur to see the baby and to [breast]feed. And ... if there was a chance I could finish safely, not doing any damage to my body or to my milky supply, then I would go until the end."

Power did go until the end: She finished the race in 43 hours, 33 minutes, and 20 seconds, People reported.

Power was surprised by the attention her photo received

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: utmb starting line.JPG © Provided by Business Insider Inc utmb starting line.JPG

"To me, honestly, this is just a picture of me or any other female runner doing what you have to do when you're juggling what you love and the baby. To me, it looks completely normal," she said. "But what I love about it is it's given a platform for women to talk about the struggles we have when we're new mums and we're trying to preserve a piece of ourselves and be the best mums we can."

"Every mum wants to do the best for their baby this is how I do the best for mine," she added. "And he's going to have a pretty funny story to tell his friends when he grows up."

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