Before arriving at St. Margaret Mary School to teach her kindergarten class each day, Cassie Lowe has already been awake for hours and completed an hour-long run.
Lowe placed second in the female division during the annual GE Appliances Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, which took place April 29. Though she ran more than 26 miles in three hours — and beat thousands of other runners — Lowe said it’s not about the race.
Instead, she’s focused on running — that’s where she meets God.
“That’s part of the gift,” she said in a recent interview in her classroom.
Lowe says a prayer before she runs every race: Let the results be “whatever you wish,” she prays.
“I feel like God talks to me the whole time,” said Lowe.
She started running about 15 years ago, in high school. She and a friend did it to improve their softball game, but Lowe said she soon realized she was better at running than at softball.
She ran in the historic Boston Marathon in 2019, and she was “pleased” with the results. But the Boston race doesn’t compare to running in the Derby marathon, where she’s at home and surrounded by the familiar, she said.
The Derby Festival race took runners on a 26.2-mile route that started at Louisville Slugger Field and continued through downtown, Old Louisville and Churchill Downs. Racers also crossed the Big Four Bridge into Indiana.
“It’s really neat to see everybody. It’s nice to do it in your own community,” Lowe said. “It’s such an awesome feeling at home.”
It’s also an emotional experience because she can see God at work during races, she noted.
“I see it in the bodies working so hard. You see people who are paraplegic. … Everybody has a story,” she said.
“It’s amazing to see God in the people. I’m touched by the stories of why God put them there,” said Lowe. “It hurts so bad but everybody is pushing through. That God gave everybody the gift to do that is amazing.”
Lowe rises at 4:45 a.m. each day and meets a group of other runners. She feels like that experience, too, is filled with small gifts from above — seeing the sunrise or frost on the ground on cold days.
God is also in the people she runs with. They come from a “huge community of runners from all walks of life. … I would never have crossed paths with them. I feel like God has blessed me with those people to encourage me,” she said. “The gift, too, is that you don’t have to do it alone.”
When she started running, Lowe said she never thought she’d be running this long. It’s become a part of who she is.
“As long as God lets me, I will keep running,” she said.