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Mom and Four Daughters Make Pancake Race History

KSCB News - February 11, 2012 4:00 pm

International Pancake Day in Liberal, Kansas, is all about history and tradition, and this year, Amanda Schwab and her four daughters will make a bit of history of their own. All five women will compete in the International Pancake Day Race Feb. 21, the largest group from one family, by far, to ever race together.
Pancake Day organizers cannot recall any time in the race’s 63-year history when more than two immediate family members have run in the International Race at the same time.
Lining up for the Schwab family will be mom Amanda, 49; and her daughters Nique Brown, 29; Whitney Hampton, 25; Johnette Schwab, 22: and Kendra Schwab, 18. Two of the women have previous race experience, Amanda in 1998, and Whitney in 2009. The other girls are competing for the first time.
The Schwabs have been planning this family run for a while now.
“We’ve been talking about it for at least five years, but we had to wait until Kendra was old enough to compete,” Amanda said.
The women have long enjoyed Pancake Day events, and they see this as a way to take part in Liberal’s unique tradition and also bond as a family.
“It’s about creating a memory,” Nique said. “We’ve never done anything together, just us girls.”
While the family had to wait for the youngest to reach the race-eligible age of 18, it took more than a birthday to convince Kendra to run. Some cash changed hands, apparently.
“It was definitely not my idea to run,” Kendra said. “But I’m up for it now. I’ll just be hoping not to crawl across the finish line.”
None of the women describes herself as athletic. They say they are just “regular” women. Maybe even “less than regular” when it comes to athletic ability, Nique said with a laugh. “I had to go out and buy athletic clothes for this. That’s how much of a non-athlete I am.”
And that is another reason they wanted to enter the race. They feel the event on the Liberal side has gotten a little too competitive, with younger, faster racers dominating. The overall win-loss record perhaps bears that out, with Liberal ahead of Olney, 36-25. (In 1980 the score didn’t count, because a media truck blocked the finish line in Olney.)
Whitney explained that they hope to recapture a bit of the original spirit of the International Pancake Day Race.
“We wanted to show that real women with homes and families, not just super athletes, are willing to run, and maybe encourage other women to do it, too,” Whitney said. “It’s certainly not because we like to run!” she added.
Whitney and Nique are both busy young moms. Whitney runs a day-care center and has three children, Hunter, 5; Davney, 2; and Trigger, nine months. Nique is a stay-at-home mom of four: Hudson, 6; Parker, 4; Quinn, 3; and Zoe, nine months.
Amanda and Johnette both work in the office at the family-owned business, Schwab’s Tinker Shop. Kendra is a direct staff assistant at Mosaic.
While they don’t consider themselves athletic, they are preparing for the race. Amanda, Whitney, and Johnette are all working out, and Johnette thinks the family support will help.
“Running with all the girls in my family will make it a whole lot easier,” she said.
They are all excited to be a part of Liberal’s most famous event.
“It’s a fun community tradition that is known around the world and celebrated on two continents,” Amanda said. “Only a select few can say they have run in the International Race.”
The women say they don’t have any special good luck charms, but they will wear coordinating outfits. The rules of the race require contestants to wear a dress, apron, and headscarf, as well as carry a skillet and pancake.
“We are still working on the skirts, but we have the aprons done,” Amanda said. She and Whitney created them of matching black and white fabric, with each girl selecting her own accent colors. Aprons are also in the works for several smaller family members, as four of Amanda’s grandchildren will run in the kids’ races.
Pancake Board members are thrilled with the family’s participation.
“International Pancake Day strives to make Pancake Day a fun-filled, family friendly event,” said Gary Classen, International Pancake Day Chairman. “The Schwab family has taken that to the extreme, with not only a mother and four daughters running, but also all of the grandchildren who are old enough participating in the children’s races. We are excited to see that pancake syrup runs deep in the Schwab family’s blood!”
The women have been focused on preparing for the race, and said they haven’t given much thought to how they may place. Whitney and Nique both predict that among the five of them, Johnette will lead the pack. Whitney also said she expected Nique to finish ahead of her, but Nique disagreed. No one else was willing to make a prediction.
One thing they all agreed on: they will not let Amanda beat them just because she is the mom.
For Amanda to take the lead, “we’d have to walk!” Johnette said, as everyone laughed.
Nor do they intend to stick together during the race. The Schwab women will look back on the 63rd International Pancake Day Race as a great shared experience, but they all said that when the starting gun sounds on Feb. 21, “it’s every woman for herself!”


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